Changes Along Hiawatha Line Cut Drivers' Commute in Half

Updated: 02/06/2013 7:31 PM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

The morning commute is enough of a headache for drivers.  Now add working around the light rail schedule.

"I've waited at that light for as long as five or six minutes at a time," said one driver.

"Sometimes you're just ready to get the light and then there comes another light rail," said another.

As many as 17,000 drivers a day have been playing this game for nearly a decade, ever since the Hiawatha Line was built in 2004.

"That used to just be an excruciating experience," said Minneapolis city council member Sandy Colvin Roy. "Now, it's not."

The city of Minneapolis installed sensors built to cut drivers' wait time at the light in half.  The stop lights are now set to turn green for the cars that have waited the longest, first.

City engineers say the longest a car should have to wait at a red light is a four minutes maximum.  Drivers have waited as long as 11 minutes.

"And if we could measure the blood pressure for area residents I'm sure that's gone down too," said Roy.

The sensors are also being installed along the Central Corridor as construction continues, getting light rail technology up to speed, and drivers back on track.