Roadway congestion has many negative impacts on our quality of life, whether it's being late for an important meeting, losing sleep in order to make it to work on time, or missing a child's ballgame. If you happen to think while staring at taillights in front of you that Hampton Roads must have some of the worst congestion in the country, you would be correct.
Based on data provided by Inrix, Hampton Roads indeed has some of the worst roadway congestion in the country. Inrix produces an index for each region called the Peak Period Travel Time Tax, which measures the extra amount of time trips take during congested peak travel periods. Hampton Roads had a Peak Period Travel Time Tax of 13.0% in 2010, which means that on average a trip in Hampton Roads took 13% longer to complete during the peak travel periods in 2010 than the same trip took during uncongested periods of the day. Hampton Roads had the 16th highest peak period congestion level in the country in 2010, which is much worse than in 2006 when Hampton Roads had the 24th highest congestion level in the country.
Looking only at 35 comparable large metropolitan areas with populations between 1 and 3 million people, Hampton Roads had the 5th highest Peak Period Travel Time Tax in 2010. This ranked Hampton Roads above many high profile metropolitan areas such as Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Charlotte.
All of this congestion not only impacts our time but also has other costs, such as wasted fuel and costs related to trucks not being able to deliver their goods. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University produces the Urban Mobility Report, which includes an estimate of the costs of congestion in metropolitan areas. According to TTI, congestion cost each auto commuter in Hampton Roads an average of $695 in 2009. Across the entire region this added up to a total of $714 million wasted in 2009 due to congestion.
Although roadway congestion in Hampton Roads is widespread today, it is expected to get much worse in the future. Based on an HRTPO analysis, the amount of congestion in Hampton Roads is expected to be about 2 and a half times worse in 2030 than it is today. This assumes that all projects included in the 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan are built, meaning congestion could be even worse than expected if these projects are not completed.
The congestion we experience in our region is largely driven by our commuting decisions. Future articles will detail how we commute, when we commute, and where we commute, and how our commuting choices impact roadway congestion in our region.