Reducing highway congestion has no easy fix and requires a range of strategies, including reducing travel demand through improved land use planning, and creating walkable and bikeable communities; supporting and encouraging telecommuting and the use of flexible work hours; and investing in transit and other alternative ways to get around.

When a roadway investment is necessary, the region calls for implementing traffic management technologies; identifying lower-cost, high-benefit spot mobility improvements; implementing E-ZPass lanes that benefit transit and carpools; and as a final solution strategically increasing capacity. Targeted investments to improve travel times on the region’s highway system also helps limit the negative impacts of congestion on people’s daily lives and on the economy.

Causes of congestion

Congestion means that traffic slows down or stops on our highways, and it has several causes.

  • Population growth, especially among adults 18 to 64 who the primary work commuters
  • Prosperity, which can make car ownership possible for more people and increase travel to work
  • Shared work schedules where most people are then on the highways at the same times
  • Adverse weather, construction, crashes, and other traffic incidents
  • Special events that attract great numbers of people, mostly in private vehicles and at the same time

Costs of congestion

Congestion costs the Twin Cities over $2.6 billion each year. Many of those costs can be quantified in lost time and wasted fuel, but there are also costs to the environment, to public health and to the economic competitiveness of the region.

Managing congestion

  • Use and prepare for innovative technologies on our highway system including congestion pricing, driver information and lane control systems; improved signal timing; and emerging electric, and connected and autonomous vehicle technologies
  • Support ways to move more people on existing highways in congested corridors through bus- only lanes, E-ZPass lanes, and park-and-ride facilities with frequent transit service, to encourage more people to use transit or share a ride for part of their trip
  • Encourage land uses and development patterns that support traveling by means other than driving alone, like walking, biking, or taking transit; leverage the build-out of a transit system to guide future growth to areas where people have options for how they travel

Congestion Management Process