|How bad will traffic congestion be in 2030? How much construction and how many new lane miles will each state and major city need to add over the next 25 years to prevent severe congestion? And how much will it all cost? The Reason Foundation study Building Roads to Reduce Traffic Congestion in America’s Cities: How Much and at What Cost? and its addendum, A Detailed State-by-State Analysis of Future Congestion and Capacity Needs, provide in-depth answers to these questions. An interactive map ranking the states by congestion and costs to reduce traffic is here and a map of the most congested cities is here.
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To significantly reduce today’s severe congestion and prepare for growth expected by 2030, Nevada needs just over 919 new lane-miles at a total cost of $2.3 billion, in today’s dollars. That’s a cost of $71 per resident each year. Nevada ranks 31st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of most lane-miles needed and 31st in the total cost of those improvements. If the state made these improvements, it would save 62 million hours per year that are now wasted in traffic jams.
Nevada is home to the tenth most congested city in the United States, Las Vegas (tied with New York City for this honor), where the Travel Time Index (TTI) is 1.39. This means that driving times during peak traffic hours are 39 percent longer than during off-peak times. However, unless major steps are taken to relieve congestion, drivers in Sin City can expect to see a TTI of 1.79 by 2030, meaning they will experience travel delays far worse than even present-day Los Angeles.
Las Vegas could significantly reduce congestion by adding about 688 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion in today’s dollars. This investment would save an estimated 52 million hours per year that are now lost sitting in Las Vegas traffic, at a cost of $1.11 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.
As Table 34 shows, Nevada’s other urban area with a population over 50,000, Reno, is currently substantially less congested than Las Vegas, with a very reasonable TTI of 1.05. However, this TTI is expected to jump to 1.39 over the next 25 years to about where Las Vegas is today. This is an increase in delay of a whopping 680 percent, which will be quite a shock to the local commuters. (The ‘delay’ in the travel time is the portion of the TTI over 1.0.) In contrast, the increase of delay in the Las Vegas area is ‘only’ about 100 percent, which is more than enough to grab drivers’ attention.
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?