Report: Baltimore Traffic Is Bad and D.C. Area’s Is Worse

Commuters in the Washington, D.C., area continue to endure some of the most grueling commutes in the nation, according to a study released on Thursday.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2019 “Urban Mobility Report” found that commuters in the capital region spend 102 hours a year, on average, in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

That’s the third worst in the nation, behind Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The report, an analysis of 2017 data from 101 urban areas, estimates that commuters in the capital region spend 247.8 million hours a year inching along on congested roads, the sixth highest total in the U.S.

The numbers reinforce the D.C. area’s reputation for having among the most overtaxed roads network in the country.

“Travel demand is outstripping the capacity of our road network in the Washington metro area,” said John Townsend II, Director of governmental affairs for Mid-Atlantic AAA.

“Too many travelers, too few lane mileage.”

Baltimore area commuters also spend more time getting to work they used to.

Collectively, they spend 93 million hours in bumper to bumper traffic, an average of 59 hours per person annually, up 26 percent from a decade ago.

Baltimore’s commute is the 22nd worst in the nation.

In a news release that accompanied the report, researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute say the solution is “more of everything — roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use.”

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” says Tim Lomax, a report author and Regents Fellow at TTI.

“We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) weighed in on the report in a Facebook post Friday.

“Traffic experts agree that congestion in our region is some of the worst in the nation. They recommend ‘more of everything—roads, transit… when it comes to infrastructure, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in Maryland,” he said.

The 102 hours that the average D.C.-area commuter spends in traffic is a 21% increase from 10 years ago and a 54% increase from 1997, when the average was 66 hours a year.

Commuters in the capital region face an annual “congestion cost” of $1,840, third worst in the nation. In Los Angeles, it’s $2,442 per person.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, but reducing green space and trees and putting in more impermeable surface, especially using cement and asphalt, will increase greenhouse gases even faster than congestion does. Especially since more highways relieve congestion only temporarily. They just encourages more vehicle travel, and soon congestion is as bad or worse than before. There are many reputable studies showing this, but all you need to do is look at Los Angeles, which never saw a freeway project it didn’t like. Go watch a YouTube of a traffic chase in LA. All you’ll see (besides cop cars and object of chase) is highways, wide roads, strip malls. A climate crisis is rapidly escalating. Wildfires and floods and extreme weather are only a small taste of what is coming, even during lives of Boomers, much less those in younger generations. We have a responsibility to be stewards of this planet for the sake of other humans and all other species. You can believe that mandate comes from Genesis, or from science. Or both. But we’d better all take it seriously, not just give lip service to greenhouse gas reduction. If you can’t imagine the collapse of civilization, go read some good sci fi apocalyptic novels, starting with “Dune” by Frank Herbert. I like “Riddley Walker” by Russell Hoban, but you have to be patient with his post-apocalyptic dialect, a bit like that in “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, another dystopian fiction, but the battle for resources will be real. Ursula Le Guin, “A Wizard of Earthsea,” for the delicate balance between humans and their natural environment. Or trying writing your own vision of the future after climate catastrophe, as you would tell it to all children, including your own.

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