WASHINGTON - Most people who drive on highways in the D.C. region regularly will tell you traffic is often no fun, and a new study points out several spots along our area roads that are consistently worse than all the rest. Three stretches of highway in the DMV made the list of America’s Top 50 Bottlenecks.
The new study by the American Highway Users Alliance says “the impacts of constant and crushing delays have significant implications” on the productivity and health of the drivers who have to deal with them. Lack of roads and poor infrastructure planning are the most consistent and biggest issues drivers face in major metropolitan cities in the U.S. according to the study. Simply put, there are too many people behind the wheel, and not enough space to accommodate them—and the problem is getting worse, the study said. Since 1982, the report indicates the number of hours of delay per traveler has doubled in U.S. cities of all sizes.
The D.C. metro area first hits the list at #26, with Interstate 395 between Washington Blvd. and the George Washington Parkway. The annual lost value of time is estimated at $27,000,000, while the annual fuel wasted is about 322,660 gallons.
Another Northern Virginia highway ranks at #41—I-495 at the Dulles Toll Road. And I-395 from Duke St. to halfway between Duke St. and Edsall Road is #44.
“We're wasting $4.8 billion every year -- just people’s time,” said Greg Cohen, president of the American Highway Users Alliance. “That doesn't account for the cost of business, the cost of deliveries, the fact that if you're in the service industry and you do five service calls in one day and now you can only do four because of traffic congestion."
Cohen also said 91 million hours are being wasted nationwide sitting in traffic in bottleneck areas.
Bottlenecks are specific locations along a route where commuters are stuck in traffic every time they hit that point. It totals at least 3,000 hours a day for a distance of one mile.
In northern Virginia, more than 4,000 hours a day is wasted for drivers passing through any one of those three bottleneck areas.
Meanwhile, Chicago sits atop the list—specifically a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 90 between Roosevelt Road and N. Nagle Ave. The annual lost value of time there totals $418,000,000, and the annual fuel wasted was 6,370,000 gallons.
Here’s the top 10, based on backups in both directions throughout the day—and not just one direction during rush hour:
1. Chicago – I-90 between Roosevelt Rd. and N. Nagle Ave.
2. Los Angeles – I-405 between SR22 and I-605
3. Los Angeles – I-10 between Santa Fe Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd.
4. Los Angeles – I-405 between Venice Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd.
5. Los Angeles – US 101 between Franklin Ave and Glendale Blvd.
6. Los Angeles – I-110 between Exposition Blvd. and Stadium Way
7. Los Angeles – US 101 between Sepulveda Blvd. and Laurel Canyon Blvd.
8. New York/New Jersey – Lincoln Tunnel between 10th Ave. and John F. Kennedy Blvd.
9. New York – I-95 between I-895 and Broadway
10. Austin, TX – I-35 between East Riverside Dr. and E. Dean Keeton St.
While bottlenecks cost time and money, the report also says they can be fixed. One example of that is right here in the D.C. area. The rebuilding of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in D.C. greatly improved what was once a major bottleneck for drivers—and in the last 10 years it has dropped off the list.