Houston ranks as the sixth-worst U.S. city for traffic congestion in the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2012 Urban Mobility Report, which includes a comprehensive database of traffic congestion, its effects on air quality and its costs to drivers in all 101 U.S. urban areas with populations above 500,000.
“The methods and measures developed by TTI in the report have been successfully implemented for policy making and prioritizing congestion-mitigating projects,” said report co-author and researcher Tim Lomax, an urban planning lecturer at Texas A&M.
Washington, D.C. commuters face the most congested roads in the U.S., followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston. Dallas placed 12th in the annual rankings.
Fuel wasted in congested traffic, said the report, reached a total of 2.9 billion gallons — enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome four times. That’s the same as 2010, but short of the 3.2 billion gallons wasted in 2005. The report’s national travel time index, the difference in time required for a rush hour commute compared to the same trip in non-congested conditions remained steady at 1.18.
The nationwide cost of congestion in 2011 was $121 billion, up one billion dollars from the year before, or $818 per U.S. commuter. Of that total, about $27 billion was wasted diesel fuel from trucks moving goods on the nation’s highway system.
Researchers say the most effective way to address traffic congestion varies from one urban area to another but that in all cases, a multi-faceted approach should be used, relying on improved traffic management and public transportation in addition to new construction. Travel options such as flexible work hours and telecommuting should also be part of the mix.
The report is the third prepared in TTI’s partnership with INRIX, a leading private-sector provider of travel time information for both commuters and shippers.
TTI, a member of the Texas A&M University System, seeks solutions to the problems and challenges facing all modes of transportation, as well as helping prepare students for transportation-related careers.