Help ease downtown traffic by not “blocking the box”

Keeping intersections clear helps keep traffic moving this construction season

Graphic of intersection with the words "don't block the box" in the middleConstruction projects on freeways and streets are increasing traffic congestion throughout downtown Minneapolis. The City of Minneapolis is taking several steps to lessen the impact to drivers. While Minneapolis does its part, drivers can play a critical role in reducing delays.

Don’t block intersections

The most important thing drivers can do is to not contribute to traffic congestion is to not drive into an intersection when there is not enough room to make it completely through during a green light. Drivers who do this are “blocking the box,” which is against Minnesota law. When the traffic signals change, vehicles blocking the box keep cross traffic from moving, stopping up traffic in both directions.

Drivers should make sure there is enough room to completely cross a street before entering an intersection. This includes not blocking crosswalks to allow safe passage for pedestrians.  Being patient and sometimes waiting for the next green light will significantly improve traffic flow for everyone.

Obey traffic control agents

Traffic control agents are on the streets throughout downtown Minneapolis at peak driving times. The City provides them as a service to drivers and commuters, and they’re currently helping ease congestion due to construction. According to Minnesota law, instructions given by these agents must be followed by all drivers, and their direction overrides all traffic signals and signs.

Traffic control agents will be out at key intersections to keep traffic moving by making sure cars aren’t stopping in the middle of intersections, but agents can’t be at every corner. That’s why it’s important that drivers pay attention to traffic, drive carefully and make sure they aren’t blocking the intersection.

Along with obeying traffic control agents, drivers need to do their part to help keep those agents safe. Directing traffic is a dangerous job. It requires traffic control agents to be literally in the middle of the street, and they’re out there when traffic is at its worst. Everyone driving in downtown Minneapolis needs to be aware that these agents could be in the middle of intersections.

City taking traffic-managing efforts

Along with adding traffic control agents to intersections, the City has done and continues to do a number of things to make drivers aware of the Metro Transit and I-94 construction and help ease congestion.

  • The City is coordinating and delaying right-of-way activities to keep lanes and sidewalks open.
  • Through social media, news releases and other communication methods, the City helps alert the media and public about construction projects that will likely affect traffic. With construction projects conducted by Metro Transit, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City works with those agencies to coordinate public communications.
  • The City often requires weekend instead of weekday construction to avoid peak traffic hours.
  • Variable message signs at intersections around downtown Minneapolis are used to share information about streets that are closed, detours and other factors that can affect traffic.