The roadway congestion we experience in our region is largely driven by our commuting decisions. Previous articles in this series described the congestion we experience in our region, how we commute, and when we commute. This article will look at where we commute in Hampton Roads and how that impacts roadway congestion.
The U.S. Census Bureau, through the decennial Census and the American Community Survey, collects data on the localities where people live and where they work. In 2009, almost half (49%) of all Hampton Roads residents worked in a jurisdiction that was different from the one that they resided in. In raw numbers, this comes to 405,000 residents that cross jurisdictional lines in their commute. For those that commute by driving alone, the percentages are even higher. A majority (52%) of all Hampton Roads residents that drove alone to work in 2009 worked in a jurisdiction that was different than the one they lived in.
This percentage of cross-jurisdictional commuting has increased through the years. In 1970, only 32% of Hampton Roads workers commuted to a jurisdiction that was different than the one they resided in. This percentage increased to 41% in 1980 and 44% in 1990 before approaching the 50% threshold in 2000. The share of cross-jurisdictional commuters in Hampton Roads remained constant throughout the 2000s, only varying between 48% and 50% throughout the decade.
The number of Hampton Roads residents that commute from the Southside to the Peninsula and vice-versa has also increased through the years. In 1990, 29,200 Hampton Roads residents, or 4.0% of all Hampton Roads workers, crossed the harbor in their commute. By 2000 this number increased to 44,500 residents (5.8% of all Hampton Roads workers), and for the average of 2005-2009 (the most recent data available), the number increased to 54,600 residents, or 6.6% of all Hampton Roads workers.
The large number of cross-jurisdictional commuters puts further strain on the Hampton Roads roadway network. Longer commutes contribute to additional vehicle travel throughout the region during the peak travel periods each day. With many of these longer commutes crossing our limited and congested bridges and tunnels, it's not surprising that Hampton Roads has some of the worst congestion in the country.
The next article in this series will summarize how, when, and where we commute, and will provide details about HRTPO's State of Transportation report.
Data source: U.S Census Bureau.