The Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) is a transportation laboratory focusing on the testing and evaluation of new transportation management and operational strategies and traveler information technologies. The MTO is a facility of the University of Minnesota's Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering. It is also affiliated with the Roadway Safety Institute, the Region 5 University Transportation Center.

Our Research

MTO lab

Traffic Management

Improving the management of transportation networks through simulation and modeling.

Learn More about traffic management research projects

Traffic Safety

Investigating and improving the safety and mobility of transportation networks.

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MTO lab staff

Transportation Planning

Developing tools and techniques that bring complex planning issues into clear perspective.

Learn More about transportation planning research projects
intersection cameras

Emerging Technologies

Joining technological innovations with transportation systems to improve safety and efficiency.

Learn More about emerging technologies research projects

MTO in the News

U of M researchers join new Freight Mobility Research Institute
Minnesota Traffic Observatory researchers will work to improve the mobility of people and goods across the nation as part of the new Freight Mobility Research Institute, a Tier 1 University Transportation Center funded in 2016. MTO director John Hourdos will serve as the Institute's assistant director for research.

Researchers urge caution during construction on stretch of I-94 with high crash rate
John Hourdos, director of the U of M’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory is featured. As construction ramps up along I-94 in Minneapolis, a team of University of Minnesota researchers is urging caution. Minnesota Traffic Observatory research shows a particular stretch of I-94, roughly from the 35W/I-94 merge to just past Portland Avenue, has the highest crash rate in the metro area with more than 150 crashes per year. That amounts to about one crash every two days.

CTS: Celebrating 30 years of innovation
In celebrating its first 30 years, the Center for Transportation Studies is looking back at research, education, and engagement highlights to illustrate the innovation that makes transportation better. Traffic operations is a great example of how U of M research meets practical needs. Autoscope® technology, invented at the U of M, was commercialized in 1991. Current research at the Minnesota Traffic Observatory builds on this legacy. A short video celebrates three decades of innovation in traffic operations.

More News

Research Spotlight: John Hourdos

Featured Research

Evaluation of the Effect MnPASS Lane Design has on Mobility and Safety
This study evaluated the safety and mobility of both restricted and open access MnPASS lanes.

Effect of Signing and Striping on the Safety of a Two-Lane Roundabout
This project examined driving behavior and safety before and after signing and striping changes at a two-lane roundabout.

Modeling Traffic Impacts on Visitor Experience and on Wildlife in Public Spaces
The MTO developed a model to simulate the complex relationships between traffic patterns and wildlife movements in Denali National Park.

Rapidly deployable, low-cost traffic data and video collection device
This portable traffic data collection system—designed for temporary data gathering and video recording—is easily deployable, non-intrusive, and inexpensive.