What is the “zipper merge?” It’s a type of merge that occurs when a roadway lane is closed for construction and motorists use BOTH lanes of traffic until reaching the defined merge area, and then alternate in “zipper” fashion into the open lane.
The traditional way of merging, also called the “early merge,” occurs when drivers see the first “lane closed ahead” sign in a work zone, slow down 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.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the zipper merge method is safer than the early merge method, reduces the overall length of traffic backup by as much as 40 percent and reduces congestion on freeway interchanges.
Minnesota residents can be hesitant to use the zipper method as they may feel like they are cheating and that other drivers could get angry with them. But it is not rude to use the zipper merge and, in fact, can save time for everyone waiting in line.
Eden Prairie has several road construction projects scheduled for 2018. The EPPD and the Public Works Department urge residents to use the zipper merge to make this year’s road construction season as safe as possible.
Watch this video about how the zipper merge works.