Policy Study

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

Reason Foundation
Mobility Project

Traffic Congestion in America’s Cities


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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, Ohio needs just over 1,600 new lane-miles at a total cost of $5.6 billion, in today’s dollars. That’s a cost of $27 per resident each year. Ohio ranks 21st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of most lane-miles needed and 16th in the total cost of those improvements. If the state made these improvements, it would save 92 million hours per year that are now wasted in traffic jams.

Ohio has two cities that currently suffer from severe congestion, which this study identifies as areas with Travel Time Indices (TTIs) of 1.18 or higher. The Cincinnati and Columbus areas are the 35th and 42nd most congested regions in the United States, with TTIs of 1.22 and 1.19, respectively. This means that driving times during peak traffic hours are 22 and 19 percent longer than during off-peak times.

Unless major steps are taken to relieve congestion, drivers in these cities can expect to see TTIs of 1.47 and 1.30 by 2030. For an idea of how severe these levels of congestion would be, projections for Cincinnati are equivalent to traffic delays in present-day Atlanta, and those for Columbus are slightly less than in present-day Philadelphia. But Ohio can significantly reduce these congestion problems by adding about 1,600 new lane-miles by 2030 at an estimated cost of $5.6 billion in today’s dollars.

This investment would save an estimated 92 million hours per year that are now lost sitting in traffic, at a cost of $2.44 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 42 shows, the other urban areas in Ohio with populations over 50,000 are currently substantially less congested than Cincinnati and Columbus. These other cities fall into two groups: those with TTIs around 1.09 (Cleveland, Dayton, Akron, and Toledo) and the others with TTIs around 1.04. Some of these cities have slow growth rates or are declining in population, but traffic is, nevertheless, increasing. Despite these lower numbers, the relative increase in delay projected over the next 25 years for these cities is as high (ranging from 75—133 percent) as for the two cities with severe congestion. (The ‘delay’ in the travel time is the portion of the TTI over 1.0.) Such a substantial increase will be sharply felt by local commuters. As points of reference, large cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City have present-day TTIs of around 1.10, so the much smaller cities of Youngstown—Warren, Canton, and Lorain-Elyria will be facing comp! arable traffic delays in the future.

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» Return to Index Page: Study, State-By-State Data, Maps
» Return to Interactive Map of Traffic U.S. Congestion Statistics and Construction Needs

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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