Drivers adapt to life without 35W bridgeby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A new study by the University of Minnesota shows that most drivers were able to adapt to detours within two months after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed last August.
The study also shows that commuting time is about the same as it was before the collapse. When the bridge fell, approximately 140,000 vehicles were using it every day.
David Levinson, a professor in the university's Department of Civil Engineering and Center for Transportation Studies, looked the traffic patterns. He said one reason there isn't more congestions is because 50,000 fewer cars are taking trips across the Mississippi River.
"Another thing was that MnDOT responded very well by widening I-94 with a re-striping, increasing it to four lanes, reconfiguring MN-280 and converting that to a freeway, both of which helped alleviate conditions somewhat," Levinson said.
Levinson said the manner in which drivers adapted to the changes resulting from the collapse show that the transportation system is robust.
"When we take out one element of the network, people can adapt," he said. "If we were to take out a lot of elements of the network, there might be serious, serious problems, but there is no fracture critical element of the transportation network as a whole."