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Report: Drivers delayed 26 million vehicle hours

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by Alex Dropkin

If you think you are spending a lot of time sitting on Austin’s roads going nowhere, you are right. In fact, you are contributing to the city’s 26 million vehicle-hours a year of traffic delays, according to a Texas A&M report.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Board reviewed the latest congestion report for the six-county area Monday, taking a look at Austin’s traffic problems in a somewhat different light.

The report, presented by Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Joan Hudson, looked at more than 2,400 miles of roadways and concluded that Austinites are delayed by traffic a total of 26 million vehicle-hours annually. Austin was ranked the fourth most congested city in America earlier this year.

A vehicle-hour is equivalent to one vehicle delayed for one hour.

“Every kind of measure that we could think of and get our hands on we included in this toolbox, so I think it provides some opportunities,” Hudson said. “You can see where the problems are and, hopefully, focus funding to address them.”

According to the report, which relied on new performance measures not previously used in CAMPO’s congestion studies, traffic is nearly twice as bad during evening peak hours than those in the morning (a delay of 35,000 vehicle-hours on average versus 65,000). The report looked at 942 segments around the area, at an average of 2.6 miles a segment.

“By combining short but similar roadway links, one can more easily identify ‘big-picture’ congestion patterns and the most congested locations in the region,” the report says.

Though Hudson presented the board with the severity of congestion of those segments, board members were looking for other measures of impact.

“If we went public with a number like this, people would laugh in our face,” board member and Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman told Hudson. Spelman said he was looking for the number of people affected by the city’s congestion, which Hudson didn’t have available at the meeting.

About 5 percent of those segments undergo severe congestion in the morning, while 8 percent are affected by severe congestion in the evening.

“You can see the top congested roadways and (CAMPO can then say), ‘Well, let’s look at projects for those problem areas,'” Hudson said.


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