Why was MSP traffic so awful today? In defense of MnDOT

Good morning –

traffic map

10 AM traffic map

The morning commute today has been horrendous. Getting anywhere in the metro this morning by vehicle is a doomed proposition. Here is a 10 am snapshot of the morning difficulties from the StarTribune’s Tim Harlow:

  • Southbound I-35 closed from Wyoming to Forest Lake due to numerous spinouts and crashes near Hwy. 8.
  • Northbound 494 has one lane now open at Bass Lake Road. Crews are working to pull a semi out of the ditch.
  • Westbound Hwy. 36, left lane blocked at Edgerton Street.
  • Westbound 94 at the Lowry Tunnel, right lane blocked with a stall
  • Ramp closed on eastbound Crosstown to northbound Hwy. 100
  • Ramp closed northbound Hwy. 280 to Hennepin Avenue
  • Southbound 35W, crash in right lane at County Road C.

Many factors are playing in to today’s nasty traffic situation (one is probably karma for passive-aggresively snickering at Hotlanta). Here are a few:

  1. Timing: The snow began accumulating in earnest – 6 am – right when rush hour began.
  2. Accumulation: This quick snow was fairly extraordinary. We were seeing heavy snow rates in excess of 2″ per hour during the peak storm and commute times. This means if a plow goes by at 8 am, there is another 1″ of snow on the road by 8:30. How far did you make it in ½ hour this morning?
  3. Driving too fast: As you can see in the raw video below from WCCO, people are driving crazy fast in this nasty weather. You driving fast and getting into an accident mucks up the system for everyone.
  4. MnDOT: Plows can only plow as fast as traffic is moving. We could have had 4 bazillion plow trucks on the road today and that would not have barely improved traffic. The snow was simply coming down too fast to keep up with the demand.
  5. Transit: This is a bit of my political soapbox coming through, but GreaterMSP residents have very few options when it comes to getting to and from work. We need transit (Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail and others) options so everyone doesn’t have to drive to work.
  6. Our Climate: We live in Minnesota – winter sucks sometimes.

MnDOT is a VERY easy target when it comes to mornings like these. They make enough problems – like last Saturday morning’s 1″ that went unplowed until 10 am – with the easy things that it is simple to blame them when it comes to disastrous mornings like today. Today is not MnDOT’s fault. In my opinion, there was very little they could do to improve conditions in an event like today.

 

 

 

 

Bottom line: we need to have better options in our region like transit, telecommuting and variable schedules to handle nasty days like today…and a little patience.

As always, please leave comments below.

Brad

 

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