Policy Study

Mobility Project – State-by-State Analysis of Future Congestion and Capacity Needs – Alaska

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, Alaska needs a modest 230 new lane-miles at a total cost of $850 million, in today’s dollars. That’s a cost of approximately $91 per resident each year. Alaska ranks 42nd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of most lane-miles needed and 36th in the total costs of those improvements. If the state made these improvements, it would save almost one million hours per year that are now wasted in traffic jams.

As Table 7 suggests, Alaska really does not have a significant traffic congestion problem, although there are likely to be specific sites in the state where traffic does have some major adverse impacts. The two cities in Alaska with populations over 50,000, Anchorage and Fairbanks, currently have reasonable Travel Time Indices (TTIs) of 1.05 and 1.03, respectively. This means that driving times during peak traffic are 5 and 3 percent longer than during off-peak times. While these TTIs do not reach the 1.18 level that this study identifies as severe congestion, the relative increase in delay projected over the next 25 years for these cities is over 60 percent, which will certainly be noticed by local commuters. (The ‘delay’ in the travel time is that portion of the TTI over 1.0.) To put things into perspective, TTIs of around 1.10, reflect current traffic in cities such as Cleveland, Richmond-Petersburg, and Spokane. Alaska could solve this problem by adding about 230 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $850 million in today’s dollars.

This investment would save an estimated 991 thousand hours per year that are now lost sitting in traffic, at a yearly cost of $34.25 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.

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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?

Additional Resources:
» Reason Foundation’s Mobility Project Main Page
» Reason Foundation’s Transportation Research and Commentary
» Reason Foundation’s Press Room

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