New Traffic System Improves Minneapolis' Flow

Lights are timed so that successive traffic lights remain green, allowing for rush-hour traffic to get in and out of the city more efficiently, said Steve Kotke, director of the Minneapolis Public Works Department.
September 4, 2013

A trip down Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis is now seven minutes faster for the average driver than it was a year ago. That’s because traffic lights have been re-timed in the first comprehensive rejiggering since 1991.

The city this summer installed new technology to operate the lights on Washington Avenue and at 200 downtown intersections. Lights are timed so that successive traffic lights remain green, allowing for rush-hour traffic to get in and out of the city more efficiently, said Steve Kotke, director of the Minneapolis Public Works Department.

“What’s irritating for any driver is to have that traffic light turn red and stop, then go to the next block and stop again,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak. “Over the past year we have done lots of work to make sure drivers can get through the city of Minneapolis easier.”

The city used a federal grant along with city, county and state money to pay for the $11.2 million signal project, which will be expanded to the rest of the city by the end of summer 2014.

In addition to making traffic flow smoother, the new signal system is expected to lower exhaust emissions, since vehicles will be idling less, and allow more time for pedestrians to cross the street.

Some of the city’s traffic control boxes use technology that dates to the 1940s.

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