Virginia has one city that currently suffers from severe congestion, which this study identifies as areas with Travel Time Indices (TTIs) of 1.18 or higher. The Virginia Beach-Norfolk area in the southeastern corner of Virginia is tied with Milwaukee as the 39th most congested region in the United States, with a TTI of 1.21. This means that driving times during peak traffic hours are 21 percent longer than during off-peak times.
Unless major steps are taken to relieve congestion, drivers in this part of Virginia can expect to see a TTI of 1.37 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 much larger places like Boston, Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth.
As Table 53 suggests, the picture is only a little better for the Richmond-Petersburg area, where the TTI is expected to jump from 1.09 to 1.27 by 2030. This portends a congestion problem worse than the present-day St. Louis or Cincinnati areas. Virginia can significantly reduce congestion by adding about 989 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $3.1 billion in today's dollars.
This investment would save an estimated 51 million hours per year that are now lost sitting in traffic, at a yearly cost of $2.42 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.
The other cities in Virginia with populations over 50,000 are currently much less congested than the Virginia Beach-Norfolk and Richmond-Petersburg areas, with TTIs in the 1.05 range. However, the relative increase in delay projected over the next 25 years for these cities is 75ï¿½100 percent, with Fredericksburg facing a whopping 525 percent increase. (The 'delay' in the travel time is the portion of the TTI over 1.0.) Such a significant increase will be sharply felt by local commuters. With TTIs of 1.09, small cities like Lynchburg and Charlottesville are facing future traffic delays similar to those currently experienced in much larger cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.
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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