How Bad Is Minneapolis Traffic?

Minneapolis drivers lose 23 hours waiting in traffic, and it’s about to get worse.
Written by Matt Nightingale
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Drivers in Minneapolis lose 23 hours to traffic congestion per year, according to a recent study. That number seems pretty manageable when you consider that drivers in Los Angeles lose 62 hours!
Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been that way. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Twin Cities experienced much worse road congestion. While many Minneapolitans may be anxious to return to pre-pandemic life, they probably aren’t as anxious to return to pre-pandemic traffic.
So, how bad is traffic in Minneapolis? Car insurance comparison super app
is here to answer that question. We’ll look at what traffic was like before COVID, what Minneapolis drivers can expect as
gets back to normal, and how to navigate traffic in the Twin Cities like a seasoned vet. We'll even throw in tips to keep your
Minneapolis insurance costs
low, so read on.

How bad is Minneapolis traffic?

While Minneapolitans only lost 23 hours to traffic congestion in 2021, Twin Cities residents shouldn’t expect free-flowing traffic to become the norm. 
Before the pandemic, traffic congestion cost the average Twin City driver 52 hours and $770 per year. And traffic snarls cost the Twin Cities nearly $4 billion in lost time and business.
As Minnesota starts to get back to normal, trends indicate that traffic congestion will likely worsen to pre-pandemic levels. And since the city’s experiencing a population boom—314,000 people moved here in the last decade—heavy traffic will probably become the norm for the foreseeable future
Hours lost to congestion
52 hours
9 hours
23 hours
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Why is Minneapolis traffic so bad?

A recent study showed that drivers in the Twin Cities spend 25% of their time during rush hour caught in traffic congestion. There are a few different factors that contribute to crowded roadways, from infrastructure to population growth to driver behavior.
One unique factor is the Minnesota winter. On average, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area gets about 52 inches of snow each year, making it one of the snowiest metro regions in the country. Winter weather can bring Minneapolis’ streets and highways to a standstill. And slippery driving conditions cause more accidents—in turn, backing up traffic.
Here are some of the other major contributors to traffic congestion in the Twin Cities.

Population size

The Twin Cities area boasts a population of 3.6 million, which makes it the 16th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. With a population that size, you’re bound to have a lot of cars on the road.
Unfortunately, infrastructure improvements aren’t keeping up with population growth. The result is traffic congestion as more residents compete for the same amount of road space.
The Twin Cities’ ability to manage traffic congestion lags behind other similarly sized metro centers. For example,
Kansas City
(population 2.3 million) has 1,320 lane miles per million people, while the Twin Cities only have 670 lane miles per million people. And Kansas City boasts an average rush-hour driving speed of 40.1 miles per hour compared to an average of 29.4 miles per hour in Minneapolis.
MORE: The ultimate guide to moving to Minneapolis

Major chokepoints

Minneapolis-St. Paul has the 20th busiest freeway system in the country.
I-94 is the most congested stretch of road in the Twin Cities by far. Traffic is especially heavy between Snelling Avenue and the Fish Lake Interchange where three thoroughfares—I-694, I-494, and Highway 524—converge with I-94.
Heavy traffic isn’t only relegated to rush hour in the Twin Cities, though. The Minnesota Vikings football team and the Minnesota Twins baseball team both play downtown. The influx of thousands of sports fans combined with the traffic of the bustling city center makes for gridlock driving in downtown MPLS on game days.

Driving habits

A recent study that tracked accident rates ranked Minneapolis and St. Paul among the worst drivers in the country. Speeding is the most common contributing factor in accidents—and ironically the most efficient way to stall traffic. The second-most common contributing factor is failure to yield.
MORE: How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?
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How to navigate Minneapolis traffic like a pro

Minneapolis traffic can be downright grueling, but there are steps you can take to minimize your wait times. Here are some tips on how to navigate traffic in the Twin Cities like a pro:
  • Avoid rush hour. This tip is pretty obvious. But what you really want to avoid is hitting rush hour in both Minneapolis and St.Paul. So, if you have to travel from the east end of the metro area to the west—or vice versa—you’d be best off doing so outside of rush-hour times.
  • Take back roads. I-94 seems like the most obvious route when heading east to west, but that stretch of highway is notoriously clogged. Consider taking county roads for a more scenic and less frustrating drive.
  • Use a traffic app. If you want to stay a step ahead of the traffic, you can find up-to-the-minute traffic conditions using the
    Minnesota 511 app
    , which provides info including traffic delays, closures, and road work.
  • Keep your wits about you. There are few things more grueling and tedious than bumper-to-bumper gridlock traffic. Be sure to keep your focus and avoid letting your frustration get the better of you. Distractions and high emotions can lead to accidents during traffic jams.

Prepare for Minneapolis traffic by updating your car insurance

With traffic congestion heading toward pre-pandemic levels, accident rates will almost certainly follow suit. The state-required minimum
liability insurance
only covers damage that you cause to other vehicles. If you want coverage that pays for damage to your vehicle, you’ll have to get additional coverage like
collision insurance
You can find the best car insurance rates in Minneapolis by using the
app. Jerry compares quotes from 50+ insurance providers and shows you the best available deals for the insurance that you need. It only takes 45 seconds to sign up in our
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The worst time to drive in Minneapolis is during rush hour. The Twin Cities have particularly long rush hours with the morning rush lasting from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and the evening rush running from 3:30 p.m. to about 6:00 p.m.
The worst spot for traffic in Minneapolis is I-94, particularly at the Fish Lake Interchange.
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