The Drive will keep you up to speed with the latest on Twin Cities commuting.

Happier commutes for Northwest Blvd. drivers

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: September 27, 2013 - 11:57 AM

Laurie Bappe's commute from Osseo to her job at TruStone Financial in Plymouth via Northwest Blvd. is usually a 15- to 20-minute drive. But last week it more than doubled to 45 minutes, including a 9-minute wait at the intersection of Bass Lake Road.

Bappe said it took three to four light cycles to get through the intersection, and that traffic signals at several other intersections seemed to stay on red longer for Northwest Blvd. drivers while lesser-traveled cross streets enjoyed green lights. Northwest Blvd. also is known as County Road 61.

"It was frustrating, and lots of people were saying the same thing," Bappe said. She wondered if that was done on purpose to get commuters to take other routes.

No, said Jon Krieg, a Hennepin County traffic operations engineer. Over the past couple weeks, the county has been upgrading equipment along Northwest Blvd., which is under the county's jurisdiction. New traffic control signals were being installed and "we had some glitches along the corridor."

Maintenance crews addressed the situation and things should be back to normal. "We hope they noticed a difference

Yes, they did. Bappe described her trip this week from County Road 81 to Hwy. 55 as "awesome," and that many of her co-workers are doing a lot less complaining.

The new control system is part of a larger effort by Hennepin County to upgrade the 450 traffic signals maintained by the county, Krieg said. With a new wheelage tax going into effect, "we plan to do more signal timing."

Earlier this year, Hennepin County approved a $10 tax on each registered vehicle. The money will be used for road maintenance projects.

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