Austin traffic worse than NYC, study says

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s traffic congestion is worse than New York City, according to a study by the National Traffic Scoreboard. The report shows Austin is fourth worst in the nation when comparing wait times in traffic, and other factors.

Drivers in the capital city sat in traffic for an average of 41 hours last year, up three hours from 2012. Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco and New York City rounded out the top 5.

“I leave Bastrop at 6:30 to get to work in Austin by 8,” says Wanda Schopp, driving about 35 miles into town each day for work. She’s part of the reason the study says traffic is not necessarily a bad thing for cities.  “I think the progress is moving. I think we’re growing as a town, and it doesn’t surprise me that the traffic is worse.”

Where traffic is, employment is, too. The report details that more people driving to work is proof the economy in a city is in a prosperous state.

“It must be a lot of jobs, or the people wouldn’t be moving here,” Schopp said. “The opportunities must be pretty prevalent at this time.”

In his state of the city address Feb. 25, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the city’s packed roadways could put a damper on that growth moving forward.

“Our traffic crisis, and I did say crisis, in Austin…has reached a point where it threatens to undermine what we accomplish and hope to accomplish.” He said the worsening congestion is more than an “annoyance,” calling the issue “dangerous.”

Austin has seen nearly 80 traffic fatalities in each of the last two years. Slower response times for public safety responders have also been noted, according to the mayor.

Leffingwell says building new roads won’t solve that problem alone and says the city needs to focus on rail.

Last month, Project Connect outlined an urban rail plan that would run from East Riverside through downtown and up to the Austin Community College Highland Campus.

The Top 10 Worst Cities for Traffic in America in 2013, along with total annual hours wasted in traffic, were:

  1. Los Angeles (64 hours, up 5 hours from 2012)
  2. Honolulu (60 hours, up 10 hours from 2012)
  3. San Francisco (56 hours, up 7 hours from 2012)
  4. Austin (41 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  5. New York (53 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  6. Bridgeport (42 hours, up 3 hours from 2012)
  7. San Jose (35 hours, up 4 hours from 2012)
  8. Seattle (37 hours, up 2 hours from 2012)
  9. Boston (38 hours, up 7 hours from 2012)
  10. Washington, D.C. (40 hours, down 1 hour from 2012)

View the full report here.

 

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