Report: Twin Cities Traffic Already Bad, about to Get Worse

Updated: 03/06/2014 7:28 AM By: Josh Rosenthal

Photo: KSTP/File
Photo: KSTP/File

The Twin Cities metro already has the 19th worst traffic in the country, according to a new report from traffic information provider INRIX. The report also says the Twin Cities metro had the 13th largest congestion increase in the country last year, with an 18 percent hike.

It's about to get even worse.

"It's a very big deal," said former MnDOT Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg. He agrees with one of the big takeaways from INRIX's scorecard, which is both good and bad for Minnesotans: metros experiencing increases in traffic generally experienced increases in economic growth and employment too. So as the economy goes up in places like Minnesota, miles per hour go down.

"Our reliance on the automobile is starting to affect our ability to grow and the capital that we have for growth," Tinklenberg said.

So the question is, what are we doing to fix our traffic problem and is it enough? Tinklenberg says improvements in our system - stuff like buses, light rail, and park and ride lots - help, but we need to do more.

"The problem is that we're not doing enough in terms of making sure that we have the kind of transportation capacity and the kind of transportation alternatives that allow us to continue to grow," he explained.

So Tinklenberg wants to see increases in road capacity and also a real investment in alternative methods of transportation. He says that could help traffic and our economy.

MnDOT Freeway Operations Engineer Brian Kary said he mostly agrees with the INRIX study. He says MnPASS is a big part of managing our traffic down the road. He also said that given budget issues, MnDOT's first obligation is to maintain the roads we already have.