Traffic jams are easing in the Twin Cities, despite a growth in population of about 40,000 in the metro area, according to report from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The study of October speed patterns released Thursday shows that congestion dipped about 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013. When traffic falls to 45 miles an hour or below, a highway is considered congested, MNDot Engineer Brian Kary said.
Kary said the percentage of miles in the system that are congested dropped from 21.4 to 19.9.
"It's pretty much about the same," he said. "It stayed pretty flat over about the last four years."
MNDot's annual report takes a snapshot of metro freeways each October, a month that has the most regular traffic patterns as schools are in session and road construction projects are generally finished.
University of Minnesota traffic researcher John Hourdos said MNDot has been ahead of the curve in implementing traffic reducing technologies that have reduced bottlenecks along Interstate 35W in South Minneapolis, I-35E and I-694. He said those projects have eased thousands of hours of congestion.
"I think the technology and the work that MNDot is putting on the MNpass lanes, the intelligent lane control signs and the variable speed limits," Hourdos said. "All of these are cutting edge systems that are helping fight congestion."
But the best way to fight congestion, Houdros said, is by increasing public transit use.