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Traffic in Twin Cities rose in 2014, average commuter spent 34 hours queuing last year

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It will come as no surprise to the majority of drivers that congestion in the Twin Cities metro area has increased.

The latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Transportation show congestion levels on metro area freeways were at 21.1 percent in 2014 – up from 19.9 percent in 2013.

This means traffic was moving at speeds of 45 miles per hour or fewer 21.1 percent of the time on the Twin Cities' major arteries.

The DOT also says the average Minnesota commuter spends 34 hours a year in congestion, but without further transportation investment, this could grow to as high as 45 hours a year by 2025.

The Star Tribune notes gridlock is most likely to happen on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings in the metro, based on findings by GPS maker Tom Tom.

But despite the rise, congestion levels are broadly the same as they have been over the past five years, and are in fact lower than the 21.4 and 21.5 percent they were at in 2012 and 2010 respectively.

Improvements made, but more needed

Part of the reason why congestion hasn't risen above these levels could be down to the rise in alternative modes of transportation, with the DOT noting public transit ridership rose by 3.5 percent in 2014 – the largest increase in three decades.

Biking is on the rise too, with a report last year finding the number of people biking to work in Minneapolis between 2000 and 2012 increased from 1.9 to 4.1 percent.

Future improvements appear to be a bone of contention at the state Capitol, with wrangling continuing over transportation bills put forward by the Republican House, Senate Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton worth between $7 billion and $11 billion, MPR News notes.

But the DOT says Dayton's package – to be paid for in part by an increase in gas taxes – would increase the number of MnPASS lanes and pay for additional transit in the metro area, which it says has proved successful in stopping congestion from growing more quickly.

"The recent congestion figures confirm that congestion strategies we have in place are helping," Brian Kary, of metro district freeway operations, said in the release. "Still, more needs to be done to alleviate congestion for the traveling public."

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