Report: DC-Area Traffic is The Worst

Herndon-area commuters may spend an extra $1,398 per year in gas and time sitting in traffic, according to report.

We’re No. 1 — but it’s really not a good thing.

Traffic congestion in the Washington, DC metro area has been ranked worst in the country by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). 

The study rates our region’s traffic worse than San Francisco-Oakland, Los Angeles, New York-Newark and Boston.

This is not the first time D.C. has been ranked No. 1. The area tied with Chicago for the honor in 2011.

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TTI’s Urban Mobility Report, released Tuesday, includes a “Planning Time Index,” which measures “travel reliability.” That factor designates “the amount of extra time needed to arrive on time for higher priority events, such as an airline departure, just-in-time shipments, medical appointments or especially important social commitments.”

“PTIs on freeways vary widely across the nation, from 1.31 (about nine extra minutes for a trip that takes 30 minutes in light traffic) in Pensacola, Florida, to 5.72 (almost three hours for that same half-hour trip) in Washington, D.C.,” according to TTI’s press release.

Among the study’s highlights for the D.C. area:

  • D.C.’s ranks first in yearly delay per commuter at 67 hours. (That’s more than a week at the office.)
  • D.C. also got the top honors for increased fuel consumption per year. Traveling in congested conditions made area drivers use on average 32 additional gallons of gas — which adds up to more than $115, based on the AAA Mid-Atlantic current average of $3.60 per gallon in Northern Virginia.
  • D.C. received the top ranking in value of travel time delay per commuter, estimating the cost of congestion per traveler annually at $1,398.
  • D.C. commuters also rank first in pounds of CO2 per auto commuter during congestion. On average, your car may be spitting out 630 pounds of CO2 per year while you sit in traffic.

Congestion data tables and more information are available here from the Texas Transportation Institute.

The study is based on data from 2011, so it is too soon to tell if the recently opened Beltway Express Lanes are helping with congestion in Northern Virginia. The opening of the first phase of Metro's Silver Line in Deceember 2013 and Express Lanes on I-95 through southern Fairfax County and Prince William County may also help in future Urban Mobility Report studies.


See more local transportation news:

McDonnell’s Transportation Bill Moves Forward

Metro Silver Line News and Updates


How's the drive from your house? Tell us in the comments.

No Toll Increase February 07, 2013 at 07:15 PM
The Beltway and I-95 Express Lanes will help with congestion, but the Metro Silver Line's own studies show that it will actually make traffic worse. There are some obvious solutions to our congestion problems, but the politicians and developers like to waste our tolls and taxes on rail instead. More info on our website.


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