U.S. Cities With the Worst Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion increased in the vast majority of the nation's biggest cities from 2013 to 2014. But there is an upside to the trend.

U.S. Cities With the Worst Traffic Congestion Photo (cc) by Paul!!!

Monday marks one of the busiest travel days of the year.

But a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute shows that Labor Day-style traffic gridlock comes more than once a year in some parts of the country.

Erik Hansen, who managed the study, tells MarketWatch:

“Within many cities, already almost every day is like Labor Day.”

According to the institute’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, 95 of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas saw increased traffic congestion from 2013 to 2014. That’s compared with only 61 cities recording an increase from 2012 to 2013.

The upside is that the increasing traffic is a reflection of the improving economy. The scorecard states:

The national congestion recession is over. Urban areas of all sizes are experiencing the challenges seen in the early 2000s — population, jobs and therefore congestion are increasing. The U.S. economy has regained nearly all of the 9 million jobs lost during the recession and the total congestion problem is larger than the pre-recession levels.

The bad news is that last year, congestion meant urban drivers spent an extra 6.9 billion hours in travel delays, while using up an extra 3.1 billion gallons of gas, according to the scorecard.

Combined, all that time and gas wasted by traffic delays cost a total of $160 billion in 2014, the report says.

The 15 worst large cities for congestion, based on extra travel time per commuter due to delays — which ranges from 82 hours per year in Washington, D.C., to 42 hours per year in San Diego — are:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, California
  • San Francisco/Oakland, California
  • New York City/Newark, New Jersey
  • Boston
  • Seattle
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, Texas
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Miami
  • Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona
  • Philadelphia
  • San Diego

Does traffic congestion seem to be getting worse? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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