Twin Cities Highway Mobility Needs Analysis

Our region works together to provide reliable transportation options to get people and freight efficiently and effectively where they need to go. In the Twin Cities, the number of vehicles on the road and the miles traveled are on the rise, and the region is expecting to add another 500,000 people between 2020 and 2040.

The Twin Cities Highway Mobility Needs Analysis explored the highway mobility investment needs of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Area. Highway mobility — the ability of people and goods to move efficiently and reliably along highways — is a core element of the Twin Cities’ transportation system, regional vitality, and quality of life.

This analysis, conducted by the Met Council and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, established a performance measure for highway mobility in the region and recommended a performance target to establish the investment need through year 2040. Completed in 2021.

Key findings

  1. Travel delay in the Twin Cities is costly and impacts all of Minnesota.
  2. Delay per person is recommended as the performance measure for Twin Cities highway mobility since it can be measured, forecasted, is broadly understood, and controls for population growth.
  3. Delay per person is projected to increase by 33% by 2040 if mobility funding does not continue.
  4. A target of 40 hours of annual delay per Twin Cities resident represents a 5% improvement over existing performance, and a significant improvement over 2040 projected performance at currently anticipated funding levels. Project stakeholders supported this target.
  5. The highway mobility target performance level of 40 hours annual delay per person can be reached using the investment strategies adopted in regional plans and programs.
  6. The cost to reach a performance target of 40 hours annual delay per person amounts to capital investment of about $4 to 6 billion over the next 20 years.

With this investment, a typical Twin Cities household would realize these benefits:

  • Access to 180,000 more jobs within a 30-minute drive by 2040
  • $800 in travel time savings annually
  • 95 percent of the region's freight bottlenecks improved
  • Reduced transit delay for transit users
  • Limited impact on greenhouse gas emissions, but further analysis is planned

This study focused on capital highway investments. A range of strategies will be necessary to meet this target from managing travel demand and changing land use, to investing in transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, to name a few.

Additional research

Blurry vehicles underneath a carpool rate sign.

The negative effects of traffic congestion on the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota

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.

Two lanes of heavy traffic next to a carpool lane.

The statewide importance of addressing traffic congestion in the Twin Cities

The negative effects of congestion stretch beyond the boundaries of the region and impact the entire state including weekend travelers and trucks shipping goods come from every corner of Minnesota. In fact, people from nearly every county in the state use several major Twin Cities’ roadways. When we invest in the region’s roads, we are investing in Minnesota and the state’s economic engine.


Steve Peterson, Metropolitan Council
[email protected]
Paul Czech, MnDOT
[email protected]