Washington area drivers are stuck in traffic 82 hours a year
Two workweeks stuck in traffic. A new report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) finds that drivers in the Washington, D.C., area face annual congestion delays of 82 hours in comparison to 67 hours in 2013.
“Washington, D.C., tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours),” according to TTI’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard.
In 2011, the TTI ranked the Washington metro area as first in the nation in terms of suffering from the worst traffic congestion from coast to coast. Back then, the average driver was stuck in traffic for 74 hours.
“Year after year, the Washington area reigns as the worst area in the nation for congestion,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, said in a statement. “We are actually losing ground, despite billions of dollars in transportation projections, including the Springfield Mixing Bowl or interchange (costing $676 million), the new Wilson Bridge (costing $2.357 billion), the ICC (costing $2.56 billion), the 395 Express Lanes (costing $1.4 billion), the 95 Express Lanes (costing $925 million), and the Silver Line (costing $3.14 billion for the first phase only).
“We are now losing two entire workweeks, $1,834 and 32 gallons of fuel annually due to congestion as compared to 15 fewer hours in 2013. The nation is driving at historic levels thanks to an improving economy and low gas prices.”
The TTI’s study says congestion has become so bad in major urban areas “that drivers have to plan more than twice as much travel time as they would need to arrive on time in light traffic just to account for the effects of irregular delays such as bad weather, collisions, and construction zones.”
The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard also reports that congestion costs in the Washington metro area have increased to $1,834 per auto commuter, up from $1,398 in 2013.
The average area driver in the Washington metro area also wastes 35 gallons of gasoline each year in traffic delays, up from 32 gallons in 2013.
As for what causes all the traffic, as of July 1, 2014, there were 3.9 million registered vehicles in the metro area of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, an increase of 2.9 percent over 2011, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
While other parts of the country lost population during the economic downturn, the 2010 Census showed the area gained 30,000 people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C.’s daytime population increases by nearly 80 percent.
The region is also home to mega commuters with 27.4 percent of District workers traveling more than 60 minutes to get to their jobs, reports the Census Bureau.
Overall in 2014, congestion caused urban Americans to travel an extra 6.9 billion hours and purchase an extra 3.1 billion gallons of fuel for a congestion cost of $160 billion, the report said. Trucks account for $28 billion (17 percent) of that cost, much more than their 7 percent share of traffic,” notes the TTI.
Even so, “From 2013 to 2014, 95 of America’s 100 largest metro areas saw increased congestion, from 2012 to 2013 only 61 cities experienced increases,” warns the TTI.
And things are expected to get worse with lower gasoline prices pushing up U. S. driving.
In June 2015 alone, Virginia motorists racked up 7.2 billion miles on their odometers, compared to 7 billion last June, comprising a 1.6 percent increase, according to Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) estimates by the Federal Highway Administration.