Twin Cities had biggest gridlock drop in country last year, says U.S. Traffic Scorecard

Categories: Commuting, Lists
Mpls traffic.jpg
Compared to 2010, there was a lot less of this happening in Mpls last year.
Compared to 2010, Twin Cities commuters breathed a lot easier last year.

According to the 2011 U.S. Traffic Scorecard, Minneapolis (really, the Twin Cities metro) had the biggest decrease in traffic congestion from 2010 through 2011.

The scorecard uses traffic information from more than four million vehicles equipped with GPS devices in compiling the annual list of the most- and least-frustrating places to drive in America.

Scorecard co-author Jim Bak told the USA Today that Minneapolis's dip correlates with a reduction in construction activity -- the number of roadwork projects in the area declined from 283 in 2010 to 258 last year.

"So much of the roadwork and construction that was a result of the stimulus is now completed," Bak said. "Construction work in general is down, as governments are reining in spending."

Most notably, of course, was the fall 2010 completion of the massive Crosstown construction project at I-35W and Highway 62, which dramatically eased the flow of traffic from Minneapolis to and fro the southern suburbs just in time for 2011.

For many metros, decreasing congestion isn't necessarily a good thing. Bak said gridlock reductions often stem from the simple fact that fewer people are driving to work, along with rising fuel prices. For instance, Tampa had the biggest increase in congestion last year, but also experienced strong 3 percent growth in the local employment market.

Said Bak: "Cities that consistently had gas prices equal to or lower than the national average, and that experienced modest job growth, were the cities that tended to have increases in congestion."

The worst metro for congestion two years running is Honolulu, with Los Angeles clocking in as second worst in both 2010 and 2011. Rounding out the top five congested cities list are San Francisco, New York, and Bridgeport, in that order.

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Pickler
Pickler

thanks to all the bikers, walkers, and people using mass transit. keep up the good work!

exDOTeng
exDOTeng

You missed the elephant(s) in the room, Rupar.

First and proactively, if student driver education courses eliminated fearful and timid highway driving in the first place, this city would rarely see red on the map.. The DOT actually accommodates this behavior too, based on freeway/ramp layout--which is even more upsetting. You blame construction season, when that can't be the only excuse year round.  I blame the 2-3 people a week I see literally stopped on an on-ramp waiting for a "clearing"... To say nothing about the psychological issues surrounding the infamous "left laners"..

There's only about 3.4 million people in the 6/494 circle, yet we see on average more miles of red tape per day than say Chicago.  I used to commute on the Edens/Tri-State and, while always a headache, was WAY safer and less clumsy than 494/35/394.  13 miles = ~1.2 hours w/ 11 million people... 18 miles = 55 minutes w/ 3.4 million...

Additionally, this is the only city I've lived in thus far where it is somehow appropriate to speed trap during pre-rush hour?? Are you insane? Have they not analyzed lane patterns and observed the rather obvious strain this puts on traffic flow?  Open up MNDOT traffic cams and see for yourself.  Or better yet, stay on that page and observe the daily list of accidents between 5-7pm... It's no wonder insurance in this state is among the highest in the country...

And while I'm on the rant, why did the MNDOT have 700+ stoplights on one antiquated server with no active failover? Fry moment right here -- Not sure if govt is over funded, or if employees are under educated. Takes you TWO days to rebuild a server powering an "adaptive" metric that doesn't even understand the value of an actual grid.. If you need help identifying what an active off-site replication and VMware environment looks like, MNDOT, hit me up.

Joe
Joe

Your little math problem there doesn't really tell us much. The density of the Chicago metro area is about 3900 pp/sq.mi while the Twin Cities is 2675, so Chicago is about 1.5 times as dense. Your 13 miles/1.2 hrs = 10.8 mph in Chicago and 18 miles/55 min = 19.6 mph in the Twin Cities shows we go more than 1.5 times as fast. In other words, rush hour speeds per person per square mile are faster here than Chicago.

exDOTeng
exDOTeng

As of 2000, Chicago = 12,750.3 people per square mile. 

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

Chicago has a better rail system as well.

Joe
Joe

And Minneapolis = 7020 people per square mile, so the point stands either way. But my numbers were for metro areas which the article was about.

Joseph Novak
Joseph Novak

Well also Chicago = 2.7 million people as of 2010, but you said 11 million so I assumed you were talking about urban area. And the urban area has a density of 3900 pp/sq mile.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... 

swmnguy
swmnguy

"...the massive Crosstown construction project at I-35W and Highway 62, which dramatically eased the flow of traffic from Minneapolis to and fro the southern suburbs..."

It did?  I live and work in Minneapolis, so it's not really my issue.  But whenever I go through the commons area there, I see people (southbound) stacking up on the single-lane exits to Portland or 62 E; right in the middle lanes so people moving from 35W southbound to 62 W have to play dodge 'em.  I see people eastbound or westbound on 62 stacking up on the single lane-exits to Portland or through-62 all time.  They just moved the congestion to the middle lanes from the inside (left) lanes, as far as I can tell.  Maybe it's better now if you're going through on 35W all the way.  I was amazed they didn't stack those roads, if they couldn't buy enough real estate to have them both go through there at full width.

But the best solution to congestion is to live near where you work and shop, and not use your car in traffic at all.  As everyone else has pointed out. 

idrivefast
idrivefast

"Most notably, of course, was the fall 2010 completion of the massive Crosstown construction project at I-35W and Highway 62, which dramatically eased the flow of traffic from Minneapolis to and fro the southern suburbs just in time for 2011."

Is "dramatic" really the best adjective to use in this sentence? I drive over the 28th St. overpass every morning and the 26th St. overpass on the way back from work every evening, and traffic on 35W is consistently stagnant. 

Badbrain is on to something though. Living and working in the same city makes a huge difference. I do not feel bad for people that intentionally live in places like Eden Prairie or Woodbury and then bitch about how long it takes for them to get downtown every day. 

badbrain
badbrain

Live in Minneapolis.  Got a good job in Minneapolis.  Got rid of my car.  More Bikes!!!

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