Out of Control Policy Blog

Congestion is a Problem in Norfolk and Pittsburgh

Congestion in the United States is a major problem. Based on 2010 numbers, researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute calculated congestion caused urban Americans to travel 4.8 billion additional hours and use 1.9 billion extra gallons of fuel for a total cost of over $100 billion. 

These researchers have written a new report identifying the most congested corridors in the nation. The institute studied 328 directional corridors representing 6 percent of the national urban freeway lane miles, but 36 percent of the urban freeway delay. From the 328, the institute picked the 40 worst corridors in eight different congestion-related categories. The report is titled Texas Transportation Institute's Congested Corridors Report

This report supplements the institute’s traditional Urban Mobility Report by highlighting the worst highways for travel. And this report lists the problematic corridors by type of delay. The eight categories are most unreliable, total congestion, AM drive congestion, PM drive congestion, mid-day congestion, weekend congestion, truck congestion, and small-city congestion.

The congestion misery is spread around the country. Including the five absolute worst corridors in each metric: Los Angeles leads with 19 of the worst corridors, New York has 5, and San Francisco has 4. Smaller cities not typically associated with congestion also rank including Norfolk, Pittsburg, Tampa, Las Vegas, Denver, and Phoenix. While worse in big cities, this report makes clear that congestion is a big problem even in mid-size metro areas. 

The report suggests managing the corridors as effectively as possible by adding lanes in the worst bottlenecks and by providing customers alternative routes. High occupancy toll lanes can help relieve congestion by guaranteeing a congestion-free alternative. The U.S. needs to use all these options to reduce congestion. The report is clear that cities that invest in improving their road networks can increase their economic activity and reduce their delays.

Reason has written extensively about congestion and how to solve it including Gridlock and Growth: The Effect of Traffic Congestion on Regional Economic Performance and The Year 2010 in Toll Roads, HOT Lanes, Infrastructure Finance. Our Galvin Mobility Project is dedicated to reducing and eliminating congestion.

Baruch Feigenbaum is Transportation Policy Analyst


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