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  • Dallas congestion proves Houston's traffic jams could be worse

    Sept. 7, 2004, 8:30PM

    Dallas congestion proves
    Houston's traffic jams could be worse

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - Houston lags behind Dallas in yet another study, but this time it's a ranking that doesn't rankle: Dallas is No. 4 in the nation for worst rush-hour traffic jams, while Houston's stuck in the slightly more bearable No. 6 spot.

    Also ahead of Houston: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Atlanta.

    According to a study released today by Texas A&M's Texas Transportation Institute, Houston's rush-hour commuters suffered through 58 hours stuck in traffic in 2002.

    Dallas' peak-period drivers wasted 61 hours in traffic in 2002, up from 13 hours in 1982. That puts Dallas in a tie with Riverside, Calif., for the biggest leap in congestion of the 85 biggest U.S. cities studied.

    Los Angeles for years has had the nation's worst traffic jams, but these days even the streets and highways in small and medium cities from Brownsville to Anchorage are giving rush-hour drivers fits.

    Snarled traffic is costing travelers in the 85 biggest U.S. cities a whopping 3.5 billion hours a year, up from 700 million two decades ago.

    The problem worsened over the past two decades in small, medium and large cities, according to the Urban Mobility Report. The institute looked at data from 1982 to 2002.

    The average urban traveler was stuck in road traffic 46 hours a year in 2002, a 187 percent increase over the 16 hours lost in 1982.

    Even more startling is the decline of free-flowing traffic during rush hour. In 1982, 30 percent of urban highways and arteries were congested. Twenty years later, drivers were delayed on 67 percent of those roads.

    Alan Pisarski, author of "Commuting in America," said that escaping to a small city no longer means escaping from traffic.

    "You're beginning to see problems in places that you didn't know had problems, places you've never heard of," Pisarski said.

    Even in cities with the least congestion -- Anchorage and Brownsville -- drivers lost five hours a year to traffic. In medium-sized cities such as Honolulu it was 18 hours.

    The problem is still most severe in cities with more than 3 million inhabitants.

    The average Los Angeles commuter spent 93 hours snarled in traffic in 2002, the most of any city in the survey. In San Francisco-Oakland area, drivers lost 73 hours to rush-hour slowdowns. And in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, motorists spent 67 hours stuck in traffic on average in 2002.

    What's alarming is how congestion outpaces a city's ability to handle it.

    In 54 urban areas, traffic snarls increased 30 percent faster than roads could be built to alleviate them.

    Tim Lomax, the report's author, said the news was not all bad. Roads were built fast enough to catch up to spreading populations in some cities, such as Anchorage, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Fla., and Charleston, S.C.

    "They've been getting worse, but they've been getting worse slower than everyone else," Lomax said. "In the bizarre world of transportation mobility, that's progress."

    Tampa is a good example of a city that has eased traffic in ways other than building roads, Lomax said. Like many cities, it has coordinated its traffic signals, smoothed traffic flow on major roads and created teams to quickly respond to accidents. Such programs have reduced traffic delays in Tampa by 7 percent, or 3.2 million hours a year.

    With names like Highway Helper, The Minute Man and Motorists Assistance Patrol, accident response teams are used in 71 cities, where they saved drivers an estimated 170 million hours in 2002.

    Lomax said bigger cities are realizing that they can help fix their traffic problems with operational solutions as well as by expanding roads.

    "It's something you can do right away," he said. The report notes that major highway improvements can take 10 years to 15 years to complete.

    Traffic in some cities has actually gotten better -- but that's because their economies have done poorly.

    "In a lot of the places in the past we've seen success in cities suffering job declines -- Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland," Pisarski said. "Unemployment is a great solution."

    The biggest time-saver, according to the report, is public transit, which shaves 32 percent off the time drivers spend sitting bumper-to-bumper.

    "If public transportation service was discontinued and the riders traveled in private vehicles, the 85 urban areas would have suffered an additional 1.1 billion hours of delay in 2002," the report said.

    Lomax said the benefits to transit systems are in cities that are already too congested to handle more vehicles.

    "Typically you're in a situation where you can't handle any more transit on the roads, so public transit becomes the way you support economic development," he said.

    The report is based on data from the states and the Transportation Department.


    Source: Houston Chronicle
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
    Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!


  • #2
    Dallas leads the state in the number of hours that the average peak-period driver spent stuck in traffic per year.

    City/Hours/National rank

    TEXAS CITIES
    Dallas 61 No. 4
    Houston 58 No. 6
    Austin 49 No. 15
    San Antonio 36 No. 30
    El Paso 19 No. 53
    Beaumont 15 No. 58
    Corpus Christi 6 No. 82
    Brownsville 5 No. 84

    OTHER CITIES
    Los Angeles 93 No. 1
    San Francisco 73 No. 2
    Washington D.C. 67 No. 3
    Atlanta 60 No. 5
    Riverside, San Bernadino, Calif. 57 No. 7
    Chicago 56 No. 8
    Boston 54 No. 9
    Detroit 53 No. 10


    Source: Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
    Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!

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    • #3
      Makes me glad that my company relocated North to Frisco, TX last year as I now have an 8 mile street level commute...when I'm actually here in town that is.

      I really feel for my neighbors that work downtown!!!
      Davo



      The older I get, the faster I was

      '02 Sebring Silver
      '07 VW Touareg V6
      '70 Volvo 1800E

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      • #4
        Where's Fort Wayne on the list?


        S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America

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        • #5
          We're No 1!

          If I carpool, it takes me 30 minutes to do the 20 mile commute. By myself it takes 45 minutes. My brother-in-law does 12 miles in 45 minutes, and he goes in at 10 to avoid the worst of the traffic.
          JW
          Cannondale Six13
          LOOK KG 381
          Klien Quantum Race

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          • #6
            Is that the real reason he goes in at 10?


            S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America

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            • #7
              Well, he is in the entertainment industry...
              JW
              Cannondale Six13
              LOOK KG 381
              Klien Quantum Race

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