Rhode Island has one major metropolitan area and it currently suffers from severe congestion, which this study identifies as areas with Travel Time Indices of 1.18 or higher. The Providence-Fall River-Newport area in eastern Rhode Island is tied with six other cities as the 42nd most congested region in the United States, with a Travel Time Index (TTI) of 1.19. This means that driving times during peak traffic are 19 percent longer than during off-peak times.
Unless major steps are taken to relieve congestion, drivers in the Providence area can expect to see a TTI of 1.36 by 2030. For an idea of how severe that level of congestion would be, note that this projection is equivalent to the traffic delays experienced today in places like Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Baltimore. But Rhode Island can significantly reduce these congestion problems by adding 257 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $848 million in today's dollars.
This investment would save an estimated 19 million hours per year that are now lost sitting in traffic, at a yearly cost of $1.83 per delay-hour saved. This does not account for the additional benefits not quantified in this study, including: lower fuel use, reduced accident rates and vehicle operating costs, lower shipping costs and truck travel time reductions, greater freight reliability, and a number of benefits associated with greater community accessibility, including an expanded labor pool for employers and new job choices for workers.
This information is excerpted from A Detailed State-by-State Analysis of Future Congestion and Capacity Needs and Building Roads to Reduce Traffic Congestion in America's Cities: How Much and at What Cost?
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