A daily dilemma for many Southern California residents is determining how bad the traffic is on any given day and budgeting enough time for the trip. It’s a part of city life, no matter which state you live in.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has been analyzing the nation’s traffic patterns for three decades with the annual Urban Mobility Report, ranking which cities have the worst congestion, and San Diego drivers may be surprised at how many places have it worse than we do.
Of the 15 “very large urban” areas in the United States, San Diego came in at No. 14, with only Phoenix having fewer hours of delay per commuter in 2011. Including all 498 urban areas in the study, San Diego was ranked 37, meaning many smaller cities had longer delays, including Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.
The Texas A&M study found that San Diego commuters sat through 37 hours of delayed traffic on average, compared with the 67 hours recorded in Washington, D.C., a town known for its gridlock.
While the nation’s capitol topped the list of worst commutes, Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana was tied with San Francisco/Oakland at No. 2, with 61 hours spent in traffic delays per driver in 2011. Rounding out the top five worst commutes were New York and Boston, followed by Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
The Urban Mobility Report has found that congestion has remained relatively stable in recent years, underscoring the link between traffic and the economy.
Fuel wasted in congested traffic 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.