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When it comes to traffic jams, Houston ranks No. 5 in U.S.

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  • When it comes to traffic jams, Houston ranks No. 5 in U.S.

    May 9, 2005, 10:43AM

    When it comes to traffic jams, Houston ranks No. 5 in U.S.
    By RAD SALLEE
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


    Traffic congestion remains severe in Houston and the nation despite roadbuilding, improved transit and other coping tactics, says a report released today.

    The annual Urban Mobility Report by traffic researchers at Texas A&M University also says Houston, with the nation's 11th largest metro area population, ranked fifth in annual delay per traveler — 63 hours in 2003, the last year for which data is available.

    That compared with 93 hours for Los Angeles, 72 for San Francisco, 69 for Washington and 67 for Atlanta.

    The report, prepared by A&M's Texas Transportation Institute, shows traffic congestion in Houston eased in the late 1980s and early '90s after a spate of roadbuilding, but the trend has been generally upward again since then, with a few bumps along the way.

    Houston's annual delay per traveler has surged from 39 hours in 1982, when the data was first compiled, and although the 63 hours logged in the most recent report is down slightly from 65 hours the previous year, the decrease is statistically insignificant.

    The report also calculates a city's total annual delay — the difference between average commute time at rush hour and free-flow conditions, multiplied by the number of commuters.

    For Houston, total delay was 137 million person-hours in 2003, eighth among U.S. metro areas. In 1992 it was 49 million (12th), and in 1982 it was 47 million (third).

    Meanwhile "rush hour" has expanded from 6.4 to 7.8 hours a day.

    The delay in Houston would have been 13 percent greater if not for transit, the report says. For specific areas such as downtown, the added burden would increase by 30 percent or more if transit were not available, said Tim Lomax, who wrote the report with colleague David Schrank. "And you'd have 30 percent more cars needing places to park," he added.

    As in each of the past several years, TTI recommends a mix of roadbuilding, car pools, transit, working from home, signal coordination and incident management — like the city's Safe Clear towing program — to ease the future crunch.

    "It's become increasingly clear that no single mode will solve the problem," Lomax said.

    Meanwhile, congestion has gotten worse faster in Austin, Atlanta and a number of other cities.

    Among Texas cities, delay per traveler was 60 hours for Dallas-Fort Worth, 33 for San Antonio and 51 for Austin. In 1982, when the data was first compiled, Austin's delay was just 11 hours compared to Houston's 39.

    "It's due to rapid growth, and they (Austin officials) didn't build up their transportation system while they were growing," Lomax said.

    "For a long time they had a policy of trying to sort of manage the growth and not add more transportation facilities. Now they have a lot more congestion," he said.

    The report is based on statistics provided by state and national agencies. Most of the numbers change little from one year to the next, but civic planners and boosters watch them closely for trends and use them to compare their cities with others competing for businesses and skilled workers.


    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
    http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/

    Full report can be found there.


    S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America

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    • #3
      Alright, Atlanta's number 4! That's why I moved to Gainesville: I got tired of spending every day in gridlock.
      2006 Lotus Elise

      2006 BMW 330i sport 6MT

      2002 S2000 New Formula Red (retired)

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      • #4
        Yes, Houston traffic is bad. I turned down a job because it required a commute to downtown.

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        • #5
          I cringe whenever I have to drive in, around, or through LA. My whole trip is planned around what time I'll be passing through there.

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          • #6
            i don't know how the NY Metro area ranks, but it'll wipe the smile off your face. Even if you're in your S2K.

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            • #7
              I've seen this list before. I like it because it objectively shows that nobody's traffic even comes close to what we have to deal with in LA. The sad thing is that about 20 years ago, we had one of the best freeway systems in the country, but thanks to poor budgeting and planning, it's a disaster right now. Freeway expansion has not kept up with the population growth here, and most of the current expansion plans are too little, too late. In another 5 years this will be a commuter's hell on earth.

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              • #8
                LA is really, really bad that's for sure. I was stuck in a traffic jam there - and this was about 10 years ago -and no one seems to want to take backroads. What's up with that? I was stuck - I don't know where and I hopped on the PCH and it was clear. Maybe it just happened to be clear.

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                • #9
                  Yeah. Knowing the surface streets is the best way to get around when traffic backs up. If you know what streets to take that run parallel to the freeways, you can make much better time. Last weekend I took 30-40 miles of surface streets from my apt in Glendale to LAX and it only took about an hour, instead of the ~2 hours it would have taken on the 101 & 405.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tool462
                    I've seen this list before. I like it because it objectively shows that nobody's traffic even comes close to what we have to deal with in LA. The sad thing is that about 20 years ago, we had one of the best freeway systems in the country, but thanks to poor budgeting and planning, it's a disaster right now. Freeway expansion has not kept up with the population growth here, and most of the current expansion plans are too little, too late. In another 5 years this will be a commuter's hell on earth.
                    What you're saying is true of nearly every major city and most mid-sized ones. There are sections in Chicago that are desperately in need of extra lanes, reshaped merges/splits, alternate exits, etc but the city/state just keeps repaving the same garbage that for the most part has been there for 20+ years. Exhibit 4 in the report shows 53 of the 85 cities studied had a significant difference between the additional lanes added compared to additional miles driven.

                    Conversely, LA has done a lot more with trying to ease congestion (with methods other than more lanes) than most cities. More lanes are not the end-all solution.


                    S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WestSideBilly
                      More lanes are not the end-all solution.
                      You're absolutely right. The answer is more freeways.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by WestSideBilly
                        More lanes are not the end-all solution.
                        You go tell TxDOT.

                        It was the best of freeways.......

                        It was the worst of freeways.......

                        It will be the biggest of freeways.



                        "In 2001, Interstate 10 west is looking forward to Houston's largest freeway expansion ever, for possibly the nation's widest fully-paved freeway corridor for a sustained distance. For more details on the planned expansion, see the March 2001 Schematics. Construction will start in 2004.

                        Today, Interstate 10 has two faces. The 10-lane freeway from downtown to IH-610 west, although opened in December 1968, is still modern and impressive by today's standards. It was recently repaved with new concrete, and has an impressive new HOV ramp near downtown. You could call it the best of freeways.

                        The freeway west of Interstate 610 is another story. Mostly constructed in late 1950's to mid-1960's, it is an embarrassment to Houston. It has only 6 lanes, a center HOV lane which was built on the interior emergency lanes, and only four feeder lanes. The freeway carries over 200,000 vehicles per day, and traffic congestion is horrible. You could call it the worst of freeways.

                        But Houston's worst of freeways will be transformed into the biggest of freeways. In March 2001, TxDOT presented its final design which it planned to submit for approval. But the Harris County Toll Road Authority is now proposing to participate in the project by adding a four-lane tollway in the center of the freeway. So as of this writing on July 1, 2001, there is not a final plan of action. However, the corridor "footprint", averaging 475 feet, appears to be fixed."


                        It's a monster. And will be an even bigger Monster.
                        "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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