The Fall and Rise of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge – Part 6: Traffic

Travel behavior changes after network disruption as well as after the replacement of disrupted links are not well-understood. The first table shows the number of river crossing trips by type of facility before and after the collapse and the reopening.

We discover 46,000 lost trips daily after the collapse (nearly a third of what the I-35W Bridge had carried), and 20,000 found trips after the new bridge opened. Those lost trips may not have been made, or more likely, found different destinations not requiring a river crossing. This provides additional evidence to the phenomenon of induced demand.

Bridge Collapses: 1-Aug-2007   Bridge Reopens: 18-Sep-2008
Bridge Before After Change Before Reopen After Reopen Change
I-35W 140000 0 -100.00% 0 120349  
Arterial total 152311 197566 29.70% 169983 95895 -43.60%
Freeway total 572274 481040 -15.90% 488717 583127 19.30%
Total 724585 678606 -6.30% 658700 679022 3.10%

Gains from the Bridge for three peak periods re-estimated with accurate (observed) travel times (but fixed and not-observed OD matrix), shown in the second Table, were on the order of $70,000 per day (somewhat below our initial low all-day estimates ($127,000), far below Mn/DOT’s, and also below the contractor early completion bonus). Much of that gain is lost once the I-94 bridge lane disappears, as consistent with the original results. $42,000 annualizes to about $15 million in benefit, for a$250 million dollar bridge (which pays off in about 23 years at 3% interest). The I-94 lane restriping paid off in a matter of a month.


Other Parts in Series: Part 1 – IntroductionPart 2 – StructurePart 3 – CommunicationPart 4 – PoliticsPart 5 – EconomicsPart 6 – TrafficPart 7 – Replacement, Part 8 – Policy Implications is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

One Response to The Fall and Rise of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge – Part 6: Traffic

  1. David Greene July 30, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    If nothing else, the collapse demonstrated how completely overbuilt our freeway network is. I noticed hardly a bump in travel time and I go all over the metro.

Daily VHT Daily Difference Value
Phase1 1.481 *10^6
Phase2 1.476 *10^6 5000 $70,950
Phase3 1.478 *10^6 3000 $42,570