Traffic was a horror show in Minneapolis Wednesday morning, as the height of road construction season mingled with torrential rain to create a maelstrom of crashes and delays.
If you want an example of how bad it was, look no further than Go96.3 host Jordan Alamat (aka Tornado Jally), who was stuck on the I-94 exit into the North Loop for two hours.
The City of Minneapolis said on Wednesday morning that the problems experienced during the morning have been duly noted, and it would be reducing "unnecessary construction" and increasing traffic control staff to help keep delays to a minimum.
The gridlock has been going for days now, with much of the delays being caused by the replacement of light rail tracks at Hennepin and 5th Street – which also means no trains entering downtown and potentially more cars on the streets.
Add to this the lane and ramp closures in and around I-94 at the Lowry Tunnel, and even without rain, daily commutes are hellish right now.
Metro Transit said its bus services were also experiencing lengthy delays.
Its spokesman, Howie Padilla, told the Star Tribune that he expects the traffic situation to have improved by Monday, when the light rail reconstruction is finished.
It was made worse on Wednesday by the rainstorms passing through the metro, which the Minnesota Department of Transportation told GoMN will always lead to slow downs during rush hour, as drivers slow down to cope with slicker surfaces and decreased visibility.
Not helping is the fact that Tuesday and Wednesdays tend to see higher traffic counts in downtown areas than other days of the week.
Tips to keep delays to a minimum
MnDOT said it urges drivers to check out the status of the roads, either using 511MN.org, checking traffic cams or researching construction project pages before setting off for a trip. And also plan ahead, considering alternate routes if there's major congestion on your usual routes.
"We also counsel planning ahead. If you know there will be major congestion on your route, consider an alternate. Or consider changing your departure time," MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutnecht said. "This works for both daily commutes as well as trips out of town to that lake place 'up north.'"
"We appreciate that road construction is onerous for travelers," he added. "It is a significant challenge because we need to do the work to ensure the system continues to function well and provide for the traveling public. But to do that, we need to disrupt traffic. And, in the metro area, the roadways that carry the most traffic are the ones that need attention."