MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New technology has improved traffic signal timing on Hiawatha Avenue, helping drivers spend less time at red lights, the city of Minneapolis says.

The technology, which wasn’t available when the light-rail service began in 2004, has slashed the longest wait times in half.

On Hiawatha Avenue, the light-rail runs parallel to the road and doesn’t stop at intersections. The old technology had traffic signal cycles starting over every time a train passed through, leaving some drivers frustrated over having to wait for another cycle to get a green light.

The new system takes in takes into consideration driver wait times whenever light-rail trains come through. Once the trains pass, vehicles that have waited the longest behind red lights will get green lights sooner.

The city engineers’ results show that the longest wait times have been drastically reduced:

  • The number of red-light waits lasting more than two minutes dropped by 50 percent.
  • The maximum recorded delay has gone down from 11 minutes before the project to four minutes.

In addition to these improvements, the new traffic management system skips a phase if there are no vehicles waiting.