MINNEAPOLIS - Drive times, congestion and exhaust emissions are all reportedly down in downtown Minneapolis, thanks to what officials are calling a completely revamped traffic management system.
Preliminary data shows the installation of new equipment and re-timing of traffic signals have cut drive times on one heavily used route by at least 25 percent.
Detailed measurements of downtown commute times under the new system will take place over the next few months.
City officials say the work downtown is the start of a complete modernization of traffic signal timing throughout Minneapolis. The work will help improve transportation in the city, whether it's in a car, on a bus or train, on a bike or on foot. The goals are to reduce motor vehicle emissions, reduce driving delays and increase time pedestrians have to cross streets at signalized intersections.
Downtown was the first part of the city to be phased in. Work is ongoing on the rest of town, with traffic signal timing expected to be completed in spring 2014 for south Minneapolis and in summer 2014 for north Minneapolis.
The key to improving traffic flow in all parts of Minneapolis is the updated Traffic Management Center. Equipment that was originally installed in the 1970s has been replaced, allowing traffic engineers to better monitor traffic flows and make changes to traffic signal patterns to respond to congestion, or prepare for special events. At the signalized intersections, old and obsolete traffic signal controllers and cabinets were replaced and crews installed new traffic signal timing programs in every one of them.
The total project cost is $11.2 million, which includes replacing outdated traffic signal controllers, the signal central control system and the retiming of more than 800 traffic signals. Approximately 80 percent of the funding comes from a federal grant, with the remainder coming from Hennepin County, local and state funding.
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