|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, Hawaii needs just over 320 new lane-miles at a total cost of $1.1 billion, in today’s dollars. That’s a cost of approximately $55 per resident each year. Hawaii ranks 37th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of most lane-miles needed and 35th in the total costs of those improvements. If the state made these improvements, it would save over 9 million hours per year that are now wasted in traffic jams.
Hawaii has one city that currently suffers from severe congestion, which this study identifies as those areas with Travel Time Indices (TTIs) of 1.18 or higher. The Honolulu area on Oahu Island is tied with five other urban areas (Providence, Columbus, New Orleans, Raleigh-Durham and Colorado Springs) 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 hours are 19 percent longer than during off-peak times.
Unless major steps are taken to relieve congestion, drivers in this part of Hawaii can expect to see a TTI of 1.31 by 2030. For an idea of how severe that level of congestion would be, note that this projection is comparable to the traffic delays experienced today in places like Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Tucson. But Hawaii can significantly reduce these congestion problems by adding about 320 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion in today’s dollars.
This investment would save an estimated 9 million hours per year that are now lost sitting in traffic, at a yearly cost of $4.72 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 17 shows, the other urban area in Hawaii with a population over 50,000, Kailua-Kaneohe, is currently much less congested than Honolulu, with a TTI of 1.04. However, the relative increase in delay projected over the next 25 years for Kailua-Kaneohe is 100 percent, which will be sharply felt by local commuters. (The ‘delay’ in the travel time is the portion of the TTI over 1.0.) With a TTI of 1.08, Kailua-Kaneohe is facing future traffic delays similar to those currently experienced in the larger cities of Dayton and Spokane.
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?