Traffic congestion, already costing Americans $63.1 billion a year, is only getting worse, according to a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). Factoring in today's rising fuel prices adds another $1.7 billion per year.
The release of TTI's 2005 Urban Mobility Report, which measures traffic congestion trends from 1982 to 2003, comes as the U.S. Congress is considering legislation to re-authorize funding for transportation programs and projects across the nation. The House-passed version of the six-year bill includes a Congestion Relief Program to address urban congestion problems. "The bill includes important sections dedicated to developing a strategy to improve mobility by attacking congestion in a systematic way using an array of traffic congestion relief activities," says study author Tim Lomax, a research engineer at TTI in a press release. Those congestion relief activities include building more road and public transportation capacity, operating that capacity for the most efficient service, and innovative pricing and truck-only lane projects.
"There is no single solution that can reverse the growth in congestion" Lomax says. "The deliberations in Congress, decisions by state and local elected officials, the results of voter initiatives last fall, and our research findings recognize that reality," he added.
The TTI study ranks areas according to several measurements, including:
"Congestion is a complicated issue and cant be solved with one approach nationwide," Lomax says, "We need to think about how policies and programs enacted at the federal, state and local levels affect congestion."