The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) recently released its latest findings on traffic congestion in different regions of the country.
In the United States as a whole, travelers lost $78 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2005. On average, travel delays nationally waste 26 gallons of fuel per car.
“Congestion is bad, and it’s getting worse in cities of all sizes,” said Tim Lomas, a research engineer at TTI. “The good news is there are solutions that work.”
When I was asked to address the Illinois Association of Highway Engineers’ annual meeting which was being held in my hometown, I did some additional research on what I perceive as an increasingly more congested road system. The following graphs show that while our lane miles of traffic are up marginally since 1980, the number of miles traveled on those roads is up over 250%. No wonder it seems to always take me longer to get around!
Even more alarming was the area in red on the following two maps from 1998 and projected to 2020. The red area is highways that are operating at over 115% of their rated capacity.
While much of rural America has not been bothered by serious highway congestion, other than our ‘rush-minute’ at the start and stop of the day, it is going to become more of an issue as the population of the country continues to grow and more people flee the ‘rat-race’ of the bigger cities for the tranquility of the countryside. Community leaders and developers should be cognizant of future traffic issues. After all, 25 years from now, we don’t want our children and grandchildren looking back at today’s levels of traffic congestion as the ‘good ole days’.