Twin Cities think tank calls for more lanes to ease metro traffic

Getting stuck in traffic is now a daily ritual for many Minnesotans in the Twin Cities metro area, but one group is offering a solution to break up the congestion. 

Some Minnesota freeways rank in the top 50 rankings for bottleneck congestion. While most drivers just deal with it, others are pushing to change the flow of traffic. 

“The solution to congestion is more lanes,” said John Hinderaker, the president of a Twin Cities think tank called The Center for the American Experiment.

The center is behind new billboards and radio ads raising awareness about ways to ease up traffic headaches.

“We don’t have a million people living on a peninsula like San Francisco or Boston—there’s no reason we can’t have an adequate highway system,” said Hinderaker.

Hinderaker says too much state funding goes towards expanding Metro Transit and installing bike lanes rather than improving roads.

“These trains are not really about transportation they’re really about re-organizing the Twin Cities—so that lines are built and future development all takes place along the lines," he said.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials, however, say more lanes is not necessarily better.

“Adding lanes is not the answer," said Kevin Gutnecht, MnDOT spokesman.

Gutnecht says a key element in all of this is funding. There are a few projects underway to help major problems like the 494/35W interchange, but there also needs to be other options for transportation.

"We want to be able to choose how we are going to get to work--how we are going to get downtown to see a play," said Gutnecht.

In fact, ridership on the light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul soared to a record 13.1 million last year. Construction to improve the 494/35W interchange will likely start next year.