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Zipper merge can make construction zone traffic flow smoothly

Tue, May 20th, 2014
Posted in All State of Minnesota

ROCHESTER, Minn. – When motorists encounter lane restrictions in work zones, they can make the merging traffic go smoother if they know how to use the zipper merge, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In southeastern Minnesota, motorists are likely to encounter lane restrictions on projects, including Highway 52 in Rochester, Interstate 35 in Owatonna and Interstate 90 near Winona. By using the zipper merge correctly, motorists can reduce the overall length of traffic backup by as much as 40 percent.

When a lane is closed in a construction zone, motorists should use both lanes of traffic until they reach the defined merge area and then alternate in "zipper" fashion into the open lane.

When most drivers see the first “lane closed ahead” sign in a work zone, they slow too quickly and move to the lane that will continue through the construction area. This driving behavior can lead to unexpected and dangerous lane switching, serious crashes and road rage.

Zipper merging benefits individual drivers as well as the public at large. Research shows that these dangers decrease when motorists use both lanes until reaching the defined merge area and then alternate in “zipper” fashion into the open lane. To learn more, go to:

of the Highway 52 bridge at 55th Street Northwest in Rochester includes the widening of the bridge to the south and reconstruction of the outside lanes of 55th. Learn more here:

in Owatonna is undergoing a two-year pavement and bridge replacement project. This year, southbound traffic is routed over into the northbound lanes, so traffic will be in single lanes both ways next to each other. Ramps are also closed. Learn more here:

eastbound is being resurfaced from Highway 76 to Winona County Road 12 near the Nodine exit. Learn more here:

urges motorists to always be attentive, drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.

For real-time traffic and travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit, call 5-1-1 or log on to

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