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How Bad is The Commute into Minneapolis? And St. Paul?

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Traffic in downtown St. Paul

Traffic in downtown St. Paul

Clara James
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities metro area has average commute times. It's not great, it's not horrendous.

If you are moving here from somewhere with truly terrible traffic - like Los Angeles for example - the traffic will probably seem light.

The rush hour in Minneapolis and St. Paul tends to be a concentrated in the traditional rush hour times. The morning rush hour is early, and worst around 7.30-8.30a.m. The evening rush hour starts relatively early, at around 4pm, peaks at 5-5.30pm, and traffic calms considerably soon after the busiest period.

Traffic leaving the downtowns and heading toward the suburbs persists longer than the rush hours in the cities.

Apart from the rush hours, it's not very common to see congestion on the road in the Twin Cities, other than the kind you'd expect around a major event, during severe weather, road construction, or heading out of town on a holiday weekend.

Where is the Worst Congestion in the Twin Cities?

The busiest roads in the Twin Cities metro area are the ones bringing commuters in from the northwest, the west and southern suburbs. All the major freeways, Interstate 35 and the 35E and 35W branches, and Interstate 94 and the I-494, and I-694 beltway roads, and the spur road I-394 get predictably congested. The intersection of I-35W and Highway 62 in south Minneapolis is a notorious hotspot for traffic congestion.

The section of I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis is the busiest section of freeway in Minnesota.

Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, most of I-394, I-35W leading into downtown Minneapolis and I-35 around downtown St. Paul all have very heavy traffic in the rush hours.

The Weather and the Roads

As well as sheer numbers of vehicles, congestion is exacerbated by seasonal factors. In the summer, MNDoT liberally distributes traffic cones all over the Twin Cities and tries to do six months of road construction and repairs during the warm months. Potholes are another hazard in the spring - the spring freeze-thaw cycle generates serious potholes on the roads and freeways.

In the winter, the roadwork has been cleared up, but many people who bike or ride the bus in the summer are back in their cars, and the weather often makes traffic worse. If you are a newcomer to frigid climates, we have serious snowstorms, and icy roads following snowfalls. And there are many more accidents caused by the icy roads - it's a good idea to slow down and allow plenty of time for your journey in the winter.

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