Will Minnesota see the full return of rush hour traffic?

If you've enjoyed the lower stress of lighter traffic during the past six months, you may have also noticed it's been shifting closer to normal.

So, where do we stand as far as rush hours go, and what can we expect?

Luke Miller of Minneapolis said he noticed the increased traffic back in late July as he drove into the suburbs.

“I think the city’s still kind of closed down, whereas the suburbs are a little more open, more open to getting back into the swing of things,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brian Kary, who monitors traffic volumes for MnDOT, is still working mostly from his home.

“In early summer, we started to slowly rise back out of that trough there,” he said.

Statewide, traffic levels dropped 50% in March, rising through spring and for most of summer. It stayed about 10% down, and as of September, only about 5% down.

But in the metro, freeways are still about 15% below normal, and Kary said morning peak congestion is still down.

“The afternoon peak is starting to come back, but it’s still much less significant than it would have been, historically.”

Traffic officials also examine the distance traveled. Most of the metro counties remain lower, with Hennepin County - the lowest – seeing a nearly 25% reduction. Much of that could be attributed to a much emptier downtown.

And, if companies like how well working from home is going, perhaps traffic may not get all the way back.    

“We maybe don’t want to do it every day,” Kary said. “I know I’m getting sick of being stuck in my basement, but at least one or two days a week, if folks were teleworking it could have a tremendous impact on the amount of congestion.”