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September 18, 2007

North Texas knows bad traffic

Driving conditions have deteriorated more dramatically in Dallas-Fort Worth than in any other metro area since 1982, a report released today shows.Gv_traffic

North Texans waste an average of 58 hours a year — nearly 2 1/2 days — while stuck in traffic, according to an urban mobility report by the Texas Transportation Institute. The study by the institute at Texas A&M University uses traffic data from 2005, the most recent year available.

Twenty-five years ago, the average Metroplex traveler lost only 10 hours a year.

"If you look at the last 10 years, the population of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington has gone up about a million people ... so the fact that congestion is on the rise isn’t a surprise," said study co-author David Schrank.

Overall, D-FW ranks fifth in the nation in terms of wasted time on the road. In Los Angeles, drivers lose 72 hours a year. Drivers in San Francisco, Washington and Atlanta all lose 60 hours a year. But none of those cities experienced as dramatic a quarter-century change as the Metroplex.

Wasted time is considered time spent on the road in poor driving conditions — stop-and-go traffic — and does not include the time motorists would normally spend driving at or near the speed limit in good conditions.

The thorough report, which is released every two years, analyzes congestion in all 437 urban areas of the U.S., and provides detailed rankings for the 85 largest areas.

In North Texas, the situation would be much worse if the Metroplex hadn’t built high-occupancy vehicle lanes, installed highway cameras to track troubled areas and trained police to clear accidents quicker. Those kinds of improvements save motorists about 10 percent in commuting costs, including wasted fuel and lost productivity, Schrank said.

"The investment in improvements is really making a difference," he said, adding that the estimated savings to the region is $215 million a year.

The study also concludes that if public transportation such as buses and trains were not available in the Metroplex, another $102 million a year would have to be spent accommodating transit riders on the roads.

Despite those savings, North Texas is still losing about $2.7 billion a year to congestion.

The study recommends that populated areas across the U.S. not only continue to improve existing roads, but also add new lanes.

"Capacity is still needed," Schrank said.Netsdriv

The study is the most detailed to date, Schrank said. Because technology has made it easier to track real-time traffic, many figures from previous urban mobility reports have been updated.

Highlights:

*Nationally, 2.9 billion gallons of fuel are wasted because of congestion. That’s enough to fill 58 supertanker ships.

*Gridlock costs the U.S. economy $78 billion, including wasted fuel and lost job hours.

*In North Texas, the number of vehicle miles driven on freeways increased to 57.3 million in 2005, compared with 49.3 million in 2001. Meanwhile, the number of trips taken on public transportation or in carpools decreased to 82 million in 2005, compared to 85 million in 2001.

*So-called rush-hour traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth now lasts for 7.6 hours a day, compared with 7.2 hours in 2001 and 2.9 hours in 1982.

Gordon Dickson, 817-685-3816

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Comments

Chuck

Traffic is bad here? Really? Maybe that has something to do with things like the 820 loop being two lanes wide on the northwest side, which has grown at a steady rate for decades. Possibly the fact that 35W hasn't seen a dime of improvement in the downtown area for years? Or the fact that Fort Worth's city planners are so enamoured by potential tax revenues that they let things like the Bryant-Irvin/I-20 intersection come to being without so much as a seconds thought regarding traffic patterns or volume flow. You could blame your incompetent city leaders for this, or re-elect them. I know which one will likely happen...

Marty Bitter

It really sucks, when you have to schedule your business day in the D-FW area around expected/anticipated traffic. It starts too early and runs too late.

Ron

Having lived in DFW all my life, it is really sad to see how the traffic situation has been handled or mis-handled by the Federal, State, County and City governments. What a waste!! From correct timing of red lights to street improvements to use of easements and proper utilization of all resources this situation could be much better. But, for whatever reason, this has become a political football. Can anyone tell me why? I know it relates to money, always follow the money. Someone is getting wealthy-at our expense and frustration. When are we, as a people, going to get angry enough to vote them all out? Red Light cameras...What a joke!!

RC in Frisco

I think it has a great deal more to do with incompetent leaders in Austin than anything locally. The gas tax has not been raised in 16 years. Let me say that again for the cheap seats. The biggest source of funding for our roads has not changed in SIXTEEN YEARS! Why? Because none of the "leaders" in Austin has had the guts to go back to their districts and stand up for what they believe in. And now they try to tell us that we have to have "alternative" means of funding to pay for our roads. In other words, tolls. I wonder why? Hmmm....

RoadRageRay

GRIDLOCK? REALLY? Could it possibly be the fact that you have a MAJOR Interstate (I-35W) that is only 2 lanes going through a major population area? Or could it be unbeleivably stupid interchange design (the 820/I35W), where going southbound is like playing Russian roulette with a lane on the left merging into the left lane and a lane on the right merging in on the right at exactly the same place - so essentially you have 4 lanes of traffic squeezing into 2 - What were they smoking when they designed that piece of insanity? There are wider surface streets in some of the newer neighborhoods than on our major feeways. The city, county and state should require the infrastructure be put in place PRIOR to issuing new building permits, but yet they are allowing the Alliance corridor to go nuts with new development and SH114 stops in Trophy Club...why does it not go all the way to I-35W? Why wasn't it extended when they OK'd the building of the Texas Motor Speedway? Don't understand that one at all.

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