Daily Commute: Freeway or side streets

Interstates fastest during snowy commute -- or not


Many commuters have different plans of attack for surviving the rush. "I seem to experience less frustration on the side streets," said Tomasz Majewski, 32, of Richfield. "Side streets even after snow seem to move at the speed limit, as opposed to the freeways, where the speed seems to be cut in half." Naomi Miller, 32, commutes from Plymouth to work on the University of Minnesota East Bank campus every day. She claims that with ever-changing road closures around the U, the interstate is more reliable. "Generally, for my commute, I stay on the freeway, because I would have to go through downtown," she said. "Because of construction, it is more congested to go through downtown." The average commute time in the Twin Cities is 22.9 minutes, according to Census figures. Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said that during a storm, it can take two to three times longer. Experts disagree on how exactly to speed that up.
Our 16 years of experience:
  • Our commute is to 255 2nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55479. We have contract parking at 100 S Washington Ave
  • We live on the East side of Plymouth near Old Rockford Road and Zachary.
  • The freeway route (map above) is 12.5 miles
  • With years of experimenting, we have found the side street route to be the consistently easiest route. Not always the fastest! But the easiest and I believe the safest. (see map below - 10.5 miles)
  • On the inbound it avoids the elevated I-394 which we have found to be treacherous when icy. This section of highway has a speed limit of 55 mph but drivers often drive 65 or more along that section.
  • One the outbound the side street option avoids the pinch point where I-394 commences
  • If we work late ... say until past 6:30 p.m., we've found the freeway the fastest route home
  • If we work on a weekend day, the freeway is the fastest as well


  1. Our commute is consistently about 30 minutes.

  2. The best commute I ever had in the Twin Cities was one where I never had to touch a freeway...10 minutes from Crystal to Golden Valley, straight down Douglas.

    I have a similar one now, which includes a bike option - I biked about 60-70% of the time last summer until I broke my wrist in September.


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