If you’re from Minnesota, odds are you have made the common but unforgivable mistake of complaining about traffic to someone who isn’t from here. Or worse yet, complaining about traffic to someone who’s from New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago.
They get this look in their eyes like you’re a kindergartener and you’re griping about how hard your homework is. Sure it is, sweetie.
But you’re from here, so you know exactly how bad it is. You know I-35W is actually a previously undiscovered ring of Hell designed to punish drivers for the sin of wanting to go to work. You know I-494 is a four-letter word.
Now, the world can know, too. There’s actually some scientific evidence for how bad traffic is here. Last year, the American Transportation Research Institute put together a list of the 100 worst bottlenecks in the nation. Four of those cursed, godless zones are in the Twin Cities.
First in line, breaking the top half of the list at No. 45, is I-35W at I-94. I’m sorry, did you want to go downtown today? You’re not. You’re going nowhere. You’re going to listen to the entire Shrek 2 soundtrack before you see a residential street again.
Next, at No. 55: I-35W at I-494. Behold from your motionless car seat the glorious vista that is 18 lanes of traffic and a Best Buy.
Which brings us to No. 71: I-35W at I-694. You know it as Satan’s horrid clover leaf.
Then, at No. 87, a change of pace: I-35E at I-94. Enjoy a view of the Mississippi river while you slip slowly into madness.
There's a certain masochistic pride in making the list four different times. Los Angeles, heralded in story and song for its God-awful traffic, only got three nods. As far as states with terrible traffic zones go, Minnesota is actually in the top 10.
And Minnesota Department of Transportation Manager Brian Kary thinks that’s just about par for the course.
“It’s probably pretty close to where it ought to be for the size of our cities,” he says. A 2015 survey from the Texas Transportation Institute, which scores cities on their urban mobility, found that the Twin Cities’ size was right about where it should be considering how terrible its traffic is. We don’t just have bad traffic. We have reliably, predictably bad traffic.
MNDoT is doing what it can to spiff up the highways and add new features, like the MnPASS express lane, to speed things along. But until then, take pride, city people. Your traffic is comparable to your L.A. friend’s traffic. Breathe in the misery. Embrace the suck.
Then, when winter comes, make sure they never complain to you ever again.