AUSTIN (Texas A&M Transportation Institute) – With Texans preparing to vote on Proposition 1, which will provide funding for transportation projects throughout the state, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has released its latest list of the state’s top 100 most congested roads.
Roads were identified through an analysis of 1,783 roads in 25 urban regions analyzed by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).
Topping the 2014 list is the I-610 West Loop in Houston, one step ahead of I-35 in Austin (last year’s number one). Houston’s Southwest Fwy., US 75 in Dallas, and Stemmons Fwy., also in Dallas, round out the top five.
The report says the state’s worsening traffic gridlock is driven largely by a rapid growth in population without a corresponding growth in roadway space. The number of registered vehicles in Texas has nearly tripled — up 172 percent in the past 40 years — while highway space has grown by only 19 percent during the same time.
This year’s study also focuses on freight-related congestion. I-35 in Austin holds the top spot in that category, followed by the Southwest Fwy., Katy Fwy. and West Loop in Houston, and Stemmons Fwy. in Dallas.
Drivers on the 1,783 congested road sections endure a total of 570 million hours of delay each year, 34 million of which are caused by trucks. Those same trucks account for $2.6 billion of the overall $12.6 billion in total delay costs.
“Carefully monitoring our mobility conditions is the first step toward developing solutions — whether we mean system improvements or multimodal solutions,” said TTI Senior Research Engineer Tim Lomax. “Whether for planners or policy makers, it’s really important to have a strong grasp of the problem, because that understanding can lead to more informed decisions.”
Researchers also note that this year’s analysis underscores how congestion is affecting more Texans with each passing year.
“It would be easy to simply dismiss this as a ‘big-city problem,’” said TTI Research Scientist David Schrank. “But doing so would ignore the fact that traffic gridlock in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio or Austin directly impacts the shipping cost of goods for every small community across the state, and that added freight expense is reflected in what we pay for those goods every day.”
Look for more on Texas’ gridlock problems in next month’s issue of Tierra Grande magazine.