- T.K. Kramascz
MnDOT Metro District
Office of Communications
1500 County Rd B2 West
Roseville, MN 55113
Twin Cities Metro freeway congestion increased slightly in 2012
Overall congestion up by less than half of one percent
ROSEVILLE, Minn. — Twin Cities Metropolitan Area freeway traffic congestion showed a slight increase between 2011 and 2012, from 21 percent to 21.4 percent overall.
Many factors affect congestion levels, including the health of the local economy, population growth, gas prices, transit ridership and vehicle miles traveled.
“Our study shows that congestion levels appear to be holding their own in the Metro Area over the past year. We have not seen a significant change in congestion between 2011 and 2012,” said Scott McBride, District Engineer for MnDOT’s eight-county Metro District.
MnDOT’s strategy for addressing and managing congestion includes operational tools such as overhead electronic message signs, ramp metering and real-time travel information including www.511mn.org and www.mndot.gov.
MnDOT’s use of Active Traffic Management (ATM) is an advanced system of cameras, loop detectors, ramp meters, a freeway service patrol (F.I.R.S.T.), changeable message signs and other traveler information systems helps increase traffic throughput and capacity and trip reliability, while decreasing incidents and travel time.
MnDOT seeks high returns on improvement investments. Such projects improve flow by relieving bottlenecks on freeways and arterials, improving geometric design and addressing safety hazards. Some enhance capacity by adding short auxiliary lanes, and others focus on system management. In some cases, flexible design principles are used to optimize the use of available pavement and right of way.
In addition, MnDOT operates two MnPASS Express Lanes on I-394 and I-35W. These provide a congestion-free travel option for those driving alone who are willing to pay, those who ride express transit, or who are in carpools. They can move people more reliably, reduce peak travel demand, improve the flow of traffic in adjacent free lanes, and enable greater speed and reliability for transit. MnDOT and the Metropolitan Council plan to add lanes to the MnPASS system in the Twin Cities metro area.
Strategic expansion – In some locations, new general purpose lanes may be needed to provide lane continuity or to complete and unfinished segment of the highway system. An example is the extension of Highway 610 in Maple Grove.
Several projects are underway aimed at addressing congestion on highways throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. These include the recently completed Hwy 169/I-494 Interchange Reconstruction project (www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/169/), the I-694/Hwy 10/Snelling Avenue “North Central Project” (www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/694expand/) and the auxiliary lane addition to westbound I-494 between I-35W and Hwy 100 (www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/i494richfield/).
“MnDOT continues to work closely with the Metropolitan Council and other partners to continue to provide a safe, reliable and modern transportation system,” McBride added.
Highway construction projects either completed in the recent past or currently underway helped address congestion at various locations. Some of the projects include the following:
- Interstate 94 Smart Lane technology completed in 2012 between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, similar to the I-35W Smart Lane project between downtown Minneapolis and Burnsville (www.dot.state.mn.us/smartlanes/)
- The I-35E reconstruction and bridge replacement project between University Ave. and Maryland Ave. in St. Paul
- The Hwy 52/Lafayette Bridge replacement project east of downtown St. Paul (www.dot.state.mn.us/lafayettebridge/)