Study claims Minnesota congestion second-worst in nation


Minnesota’s urban congestion is the second-worst in the country, trailing only California, according to a new study by the libertarian Reason Foundation and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“Gridlock isn’t going away,” said David T. Hartgen, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, in a statement. “States are going to have to prioritize and direct their transportation money to projects specifically designed to reduce congestion if we are going to reverse this troubling trend.”

Almost 78 percent of Minnesota’s urban roads were rated as congested in the study. Minnesota was one of only four states with more than 70 percent of roads congested, along with North Carolina, New Jersey and California.

Kelly Schwinghammer, communications director for the DFL, criticized Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty for the state of roads.

“This report shows what Minnesota commuters already know: road conditions and traffic are abysmal,” said Schwinghammer. “The governor had an opportunity this past session to make a necessary first step to begin solving this growing problem. A bipartisan transportation bill was sent to his desk, and he alone stood in the way of progress when he vetoed it.”

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) was dismissive of the study’s significance

“There are lots of studies,” MnDOT communications supervisor Jeanne Aamodt said in a phone interview, pointing to the Texas Transportation Institute study of congestion as a more accurate measure. In a statement issued to the media, MnDOT said its metrics show a small three-year decline in congestion.

The news was not all bad for Minnesota. Minnesota’s fatality rates were the fourth-lowest in the nation, according to the Reason Foundation study, trailing Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. And, according to the same study, Minnesota’s rural interstates were in excellent condition, with no part of the system rated as in poor condition.