In a report card on traffic congestion, Southern cities show improvement
Traffic congestion across the country worsened significantly in 2010, with 70 percent of the 100 most populous cities experiencing increases in congestion, but major Southern cities scored well on a recent congestion report card.
The fourth annual INRIX National Traffic Scorecard found that drivers overall experienced an average 10 percent increase in travel times, despite only modest employment gains in 2010. INRIX, a leading provider of traffic information, cautions that when employment returns to 2007 levels, 9 million more daily commute trips than 2010 levels will further stress America’s urban highway network.
“America is back on the road to gridlock,” said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. “Population growth combined with increases in interstate commerce spurred by economic recovery are fueling these increases.”
With increasing commute times, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago all retained the top three rankings respectively–for the last five years in fact–for having the worst congestion. Conversely, some of the most populous cities in the South bucked the national trend by moving down the list in 2010. Little Rock, Ark., moved from the 50th most congested city in 2009 to 53rd on the scorecard last year, while Jackson, Miss., had a even bigger jump from 75 on the scorecard to 86.
Thanks to aggressive road-widening initiatives, bridge projects and infrastructure recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana’s cities also dropped down the congestion scorecard. Baton Rouge moved from 32nd on the list in 2008 to 42nd last year, and New Orleans dropped from 35th most congested in 2008 to 40th place in 2010. In total, the state has invested $3.6 billion on roads since 2008.