Twin Cities suburb has second thoughts over light rail line
It might be too late to pump the brakes on the proposed Blue Line light rail line through the Twin Cities suburb of Robbinsdale pointing north. But city leaders, including…
Anyone who commutes to work in the Twin Cities knows it’s slow going most days and getting slower. Metro highways and freeways are backed up almost 25 percent of the time during the prime time driving hours of 5 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Traffic tie-ups increased by two percent in each of the last two years on record, leaving drivers stuck in congestion during those hours 23.4 percent of the time as of the end of 2015.
How bad is it? Twin Cities roadways just made the list of top 100 worst traffic bottlenecks for trucks in America that’s compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute.
Not just one or two, but four metro area interstate highway intersections made the list: I-35W at I-94 (#45), I-35W at I-494 (#55), I-35W at I-694 (#71) and I-35E at I-94 (#88). That’s more than Chicago and Los Angeles. In fact, only Atlanta and Houston have more top 100 bottlenecks than the Twin Cities.
The 2017 Top Truck Bottleneck List assesses the level of truck-oriented congestion at 250 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on truck GPS data from 600,000+ heavy duty trucks uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. The data is associated with the FHWA-sponsored Freight Performance Measures (FPM) initiative. The locations detailed in this latest ATRI list represent the top 100 congested locations.
The idea behind the report is to help states pinpoint problems in order to focus on solutions that result in the freer flow of traffic. Trucks deliver 70 percent of U.S. goods and products. Anything that speeds up the process saves time and money for companies and consumers.
“Minnesota is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies, making it a major freight generator and player in the nation’s economy,” said Minnesota Trucking Association President John Hausladen. “ATRI’s analysis allows us to target state and federal resources to keep trucks, and the economy, moving.”
Yet the Met Council and MnDOT reject the idea of adding more highway lanes as a solution to reducing traffic congestion as too expensive and ineffective. Instead, they favor going full speed ahead with light rail lines and rapid bus lines to manage traffic trouble by coercing people out of their cars, one way or another.
“It’s no surprise to see congestion on our highways is increasing,” Met Council Chair Adam Duininck told the Star Tribune recently. “We know our region is growing. By 2040, we’re expecting an additional 750,000 people to live in the region. It’s not practical to build more highways — without an expansion of our regional transit system, our roadways will only continue to get more congested.”
MnDOT is already on record predicting traffic congestion will only get worse with Twin Cities freeways expected to be clogged during peak hours up to 30 percent of the time within a decade.