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MnDOT promoting zipper merge

WILLMAR -- It's not a new concept from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but the zipper merge is currently receiving more of a push from the state's transportation leaders.

While MnDOT started recommending the use of the zipper merge a few years ago, recent data are showing it's a better option for motorists to use rather than an early merge.

"According to MnDOT's data, it's safer, faster and fairer," said TJ Melcher, MnDOT public affairs coordinator for the Willmar area. "They've taken more initiative lately to promote it and educate the public about how to do it."

According to MnDOT, when a lane is closed in a construction zone, a zipper merge occurs when motorists use both lanes of traffic until reaching the exact merge point, and then alternate in zipper fashion into the open lane.

"What MnDOT realized was that many people changed lanes as soon as they saw the 'lane closed ahead' sign," Melcher said. "This made some people feel like they were getting cut off and they would end up at the back of the lane, so they would take drastic measures so they wouldn't get cut off."

Melcher said that, not only is zipper merging safer for motorists, it also helps them get through a construction zone more quickly and more efficiently.

To learn more, visit MnDOT's website to watch videos showing how to zipper merge.

Kayla Prasek

Kayla Prasek is a staff writer for Prairie Business magazine. She is a 2014 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Contemporary Media & Journalism and Political Science programs and is originally from Watertown, S.D. She previously was the city reporter at the Watertown Public Opinion.

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