ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is asking state lawmakers to fund a statewide plan to synchronize traffic lights to ease congestion.

Twin Cities motorists spend 63 hours a year sitting in traffic, according to a recent study of traffic congestion, among the worst in the country.

One solution to speeding it up: Synchronize traffic lights to keep the cars moving.

“Most of our lights have not been synchronized for years, if ever at all,” Dayton said earlier this year to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

There are about 4,000 traffic signals in Minnesota, most of them in the metro area.

The inventory would include the heaviest traveled intersections, which see about 20,000 cars a day.

Steve Misgen, the metro district traffic engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said some traffic signals have not been adjusted for years.

“As you are driving down the road, going from “A” to “B,” our goal is that you hit them all,” said Misgen. “Boom. Boom. Boom. All green.”

Gov. Dayton’s traffic signal timing plan is part of a $10 billion road and bridge plan to ease congestion, which Dayton said will get worse every year.

The State Demographer estimates Minnesota will have at least one million more residents in 2035, including 800,000 more people living in the Twin Cities.

“Ten years from now, the residents of this state — us, our children, our grandchildren — will see much worse congestion, greater deterioration of roads,” Dayton said.  “And they will ask: Where were you 10 years ago?”

Changing traffic patterns is not easy. Minneapolis alone has 800 traffic signals. Inspecting, and synchronizing will cost $3500 each.

But Misgen said the savings of time and fuel will add up to millions of dollars a year.

“Everybody’s time is worth something,” he said. “And we’re trying to minimize the time you have sitting at a signal.  It’s also saving in fuel savings.”

Pat Kessler

Comments (2)