Traffic’s Getting Worse (Again)

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Here’s a selling point for car electronics and GPS devices: the typical commuter with a 30-minute ride to work spent 22 hours stuck in traffic last year.

But in the most congested segments of the U.S., the average commuter could spend 20 hours a WEEK in traffic.

Traffic congestion is getting worse, after a brief dip due to high unemployment and the resulting fewer drivers commuting to work.

According to INRIX, which provides traffic information for navigation devices, gridlock began declining in April 2009 but is now starting to rise.

INRIX reported that the top 10 most congested cities in 2009 were:

1. Los Angeles, Calif.
2. New York, N.Y.
3. Chicago, Ill.
4. Washington, D.C. (up from 6th in 2008)
5. Dallas, Texas
6. Houston, Texas (down from 4th in 2008)
7. San Francisco, Calif.
8. Boston, Mass.
9. Seattle, Wash.
10. Philadelphia, Pa. (up from 11th in 2008)

The above cities account for half the nation’s traffic congestion.

Although traffic is beginning to increase once again, the economic slowdown caused 2009’s congestion level to drop by a third, compared to peak levels in 2007.

Some other INRIX data tidbits:

Wednesday from 8 to 9 a.m. is the busiest morning peak travel time nationwide and Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. is the busiest evening (and overall) commute hour.

The best day to commute is Monday and the worst day is Thursday.

More than 2500 miles of the nation’s most important roads are congested more than 5 hours each week. Drivers on more than 437 miles of these roads experience more than 20 hours of congestion each week, or 4 hours each work day.

The worst bottlenecks in the country are:
1. New York: The Cross Bronx Expressway/I-95 Southbound at the Bronx River Parkway
2. Chicago: I-90 Westbound at Cermak Rd. (up from 7th in 2008)
3. New York: Cross Bronx Expressway at I-895 (up from 5th in 2008)
4. New York: Cross Bronx Expressway at White Plains Road (up from 5th in 2008)
5. New York: Harlem River Drive Southbound at 3rd Ave. (down from 2nd in 2008)
6. New Haven, CT: I-91 Southbound at Hamilton St. (up from 62nd in 2008)
7. Los Angeles: US-101 North bound at Los Angeles St.(up from 13th in 2008)
8. Chicago: I-90 Westbound at 18th St. (up from 24th in 2008)
9. New York: Cross Bronx Expressway at Westchester Ave. (up from 11th)
10. Chicago: I-90 Westbound at Ruble St.(up from 26th in 2008)

INRIX tracks (via cellphone, GPS, etc.) 1.6 million vehicles traveling the roads daily. These vehicles include taxis, airport shuttles, delivery vans, trucks and consumer vehicles. This is called a “probe” network because all of the vehicles serve as traffic probes, transmitting data on their speed, and location.

For more information about traffic in your city see:

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