Peak traffic times and locations in Grand Forks
There is one exception to Grand Forks’ typical weekday rush-hour traffic: 32nd Avenue South on a Saturday.
While the city’s other major roads are busiest from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. during the weekdays — when people are driving home from work — 32nd Avenue has been observed as busiest on Saturday between 1 and 2 p.m., according to a traffic study by the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“It’s unusual to have your highest volume of traffic on the weekend, but that’s just a general statement,” said Jane Williams, city traffic engineer. “You’re going to get these little isolated patches where (higher traffic on weekends) happens in almost every town, but ours is just more pronounced.”
There are several reasons that 32nd could have the highest traffic on weekends, she said.
One is that, as a major commercial corridor, many people shop or eat there on the weekends, including people from out of town, Williams said. Visitors staying in hotels near there over the weekend likely don’t travel far from that street, she said.
There also isn’t a school on 32nd Avenue to increase traffic during the weekdays, and since most of the businesses on that street are retail or restaurants, the employees there are likely not commuting the typical 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. times, she said.
But while 32nd Avenue’s peak traffic time is different, Williams emphasized that many variables go into traffic patterns, and Grand Forks, as a whole, is typical. Many other cities would see a similar weekend-heavy traffic pattern near a mall, she said.
Earl Haugen, executive director of Grand Forks-East Grand Forks MPO, agreed with Williams, also stressing that overall, Grand Forks’ peak traffic times are not unusual.
According to the MPO study, which measured traffic on 32nd Avenue, Gateway Drive and Washington Street in 2012, the absolute busiest traffic time is between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Washington Street and DeMers Avenue.
The next-highest traffic times are close: the morning weekday commute at the Washington-Demers intersection, the evening weekday commute at the 32nd Avenue and Columbia Road intersection, and Saturdays at the 32nd-Columbia intersection.
Haugen noted that the study was conducted by MPO after single days in February 2012 of observing traffic for 11 hours each day. While MPO works to select a “typical” day — with no major, unusual events — the data still has limits in showing a citywide trend over time, he said.
MPO is in the process of reworking equipment on the city’s traffic lights to get a continuous traffic count, measuring major intersections 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Haugen said.
Those measurements will provide a better look at the city’s traffic patterns, he said.
Haugen expects the more complete information to be available by the beginning of 2015, he said. MPO wants to make the information readily available to the public on its website, he added, so people can easily understand where and when the traffic is busiest.
Grand Forks’ busiest crossroads
Peak traffic at Grand Forks five busiest intersections, starting with the busiest, are as follows:
- Weekdays 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Washington Street and DeMers Avenue
- Weekdays 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.: Washington Street and DeMers Avenue
- Weekdays 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: 32nd Avenue South and Columbia Road
- Saturdays 1 to 2 p.m.: 32nd Avenue South and Columbia Road
- Weekdays 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: South Washington Street and 17th Avenue South
Source: Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization.