Metro ramp meters to be turned off as part of experiment

On Oct. 16, light posts at the end of on-ramps all over the metro area will begin flashing yellow, leaving traffic to ebb and flow of its own accord.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been ordered to shut down the meters for a period of four to six weeks in a bill sponsored by state Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna. The goal of the legislation is to evaluate the effectiveness of the meters.
Cambridge Systematics, a consuling firm from Massachusetts, has already spent four weeks monitoring traffic flow with the meters on and will continue the evaluation through the test period. The company must report its findings to the legislature by Feb. 1.
The consultant will monitor four “freeway corridors” for things like safety, travel time and volume of traffic. It will also use focus groups and telephone surveys to evaluate driver satisfaction.
The metro area’s 430 ramp meters have cost MnDOT $3,170,300 for installation and upkeep since 1970. The study will cost $651,600.
The department has been careful to refrain from speculating on the outcome of the test and states on its Web site that it is “fully committed” to the study.

— Seth Woehrle