Minnesota Department of Transportation

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About the Metro District


Metro District Overview

Enhancing Financial Effectiveness

MnDOT is focused on stretching tax payer dollars while continuing to deliver effective and highly valued products, services and programs. Today we are using technology, partnerships, performance-based design, contracting methods, etc. to reduce costs, save time and limit impacts to travelers, shippers and businesses in order to deliver efficient and reliable multimodal transportation. A strategic priority, financial effectiveness is demonstrated by the following programs, among others, at MnDOT Metro District.

Active Traffic Management

Active Traffic Management applications smooth the effects of congestion and increase safety by maximizing vehicle throughput, overall capacity and travel time reliability, while decreasing primary and secondary incidents (crashes) and overall travel time. Examples of ATM applications include traveler information systems, incident response programs, dynamic signing and re-routing, dynamic shoulder lanes, hard shoulder running, speed harmonization, and queue warning.

Lower-Cost/High-Benefit projects (Congestion Management Safety Plan)

Lower-cost high-benefit projects provide better traffic flow and some bottleneck relief by improving geometric design and addressing safety hazards. In some instances, these types of improvements require flexible designs to optimize the use of available pavement and existing rights of way. Metro District has implemented several very successful lower-cost/high-benefit projects, with additional projects under development. Some of these projects enhance capacity, such as the addition of short auxiliary lanes, while others focus on system management. Projects of this nature are identified through the Congestion Management System Plan - Phase III Summary Report (PDF).

Strategic Capacity Enhancements/Managed Lane Vision

Bus Only Shoulders

The Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area is home to approximately 300 bus-only shoulder (BOS) miles. As the network has taken root and expanded, it has become a fundamental piece of the MnDOT’s congestion relief/mobility investment strategies. Partnerships among transportation agencies and officials contributed greatly to the success of BOS, ensuring that support and resources were available.

Price Managed Lanes

Priced managed lanes can provide a congestion-free travel option during peak rush hour periods by pricing these lanes at rates that maintain free flow conditions for all users. Buses, carpools and motorcycles can use the lanes for free during peak periods, while solo drivers have the option to use them for a fee. During non-peak periods, most segments are open to all motorists free of charge. Over time, the percentage of priced managed lanes as part of the Metropolitan Highway System is expected to increase.


MnPASS is the brand name for Minnesota’s priced managed lane system. MnPASS Express Lanes have been operating successfully on I-394 since 2005 and on I-35W since 2009.  New MnPASS lanes on I-35E have been developed in two phases.  Phase I between Little Canada Road and Cayuga Street opened in 2015.  Phase II will open in 2016 and will include the southbound lane between County Road 96 and Little Canada Road and the northbound lane between County Road E and County Road J.

  • MnPASS offers a 21st century transportation solution with the goal of:
  • Providing faster, safer, more reliable travel options for the public
  • Improving the regional bus transit system
  • Managing congestion more efficiently and cost-effectively
  • Maximizing highway performance and people throughput for future generations

To learn more about how to become a MnPASS customer, visit mnpass.org.

Smart Lanes

Minnesota’s Smart Lanes are the electronic signs over lanes of traffic that provide real-time information to help motorists make informed decisions about their commute.  The signs display information about road conditions to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and improve safety.

The signs will be illuminated during traffic incidents to indicate whether lanes are open to traffic. This use of technology will enhance safety and improve the flow of traffic by providing motorists information about the conditions within their lane (and alert them to what’s up ahead). The information provided by these overhead lane signs will be real time, designed to help motorists navigate safely through traffic.