A new report by the Texas Transportation Institute sheds some light on the issue. What is interesting, at least to me, is that the report does seem to give some tentative confirmation of a national economic recovery. According to the report, after a decline for the past two years in overall traffic levels (one attributed to the recession), traffic rose again in 2009 and even more so in 2010. Some bullet points, taken directly from the press release.
- Congestion costs continue to rise: measured in constant 2009 dollars, the cost of congestion has risen from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009.
- The total amount of wasted fuel in 2009 topped 3.9 billion gallons – equal to 130 days of flow in the Alaska Pipeline.
- Cost to the average commuter: $808 in 2009, compared to an inflation-adjusted $351 in 1982.
- Yearly peak delay for the average commuter was 34 hours in 2009, up from 14 hours in 1982.
Yipes. Now, the big question: how did traffic rank in the Lehigh Valley? According to the report's specific section on the Allentown-Bethlehem area:
- 8,438,000 excess gallons of fuel are waisted by traffic congestion.
- 9,998,000 hours are wasted.
- Congestion costs the area roughly $65 million.
- We have the 74th worst traffic delay in America (out of 439).