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Green light thinking: Mpls. says new traffic light system cuts commute times

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Minneapolis officials say a new traffic management system installed at downtown intersections this summer is cutting commute times.

KARE-11 reports the early numbers show drive times on one thoroughfare are down 25 percent since the new system of controlling traffic lights replaced decades-old equipment. KARE says the city plans to extend the new system into the neighborhoods next year, with south Minneapolis getting updated in the spring and the north side in the summer.

Moving people around more efficiently obviously saves time, and the city's public works director tells MPR it improves air quality, too. Steve Kotke says having fewer engines idling cuts down on emissions. MPR's report says a federal grant covered 80 percent of the $11 million cost of this summer's project.

The Star Tribune says some of Minneapolis' traffic boxes are using technology that dates from the 1940's. The new equipment allows engineers to adjust signal patterns based on congestion or special events without having to go to the boxes.

Want to know more about how traffic signals are controlled? The website has a primer on the basics. The Minnesota Department of Transportation opened its Regional Traffic Management Center in Minneapolis in 1972.

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