Driving delays quadruple since 1982

September 19, 2007|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Sun reporter

The average number of hours a Baltimore-area commuter wastes in traffic delays has quadrupled since 1982, according to a widely followed transportation report released yesterday.

The 2007 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute also says that Baltimore ranks as one of the fastest-growing U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of "demand for road capacity," essentially demand by drivers for space on the roads. It is one of 15 urban areas where such demand has grown at least 45 percent more than supply since 1982 - a faster-growing rate than in New York or Los Angeles.

The burgeoning demand - along with lagging road and transit capacity - has brought significant increases in travel delays.

In 1982, a Baltimore-area traveler could expect 11 hours of delay annually. By 2005, the total had risen to 44 hours, according to the institute, an arm of Texas A&M University.

The delays cost Baltimore commuters an average of 32 gallons of wasted fuel in 2005, the report says. The cost to the local economy in terms of wasted time and fuel amounted to more than $1.1 billion.

The result was in line with past annual reports, which have shown that Baltimore has been creeping up the list of seriously congested cities in recent decades. Baltimore is classified in the report as one of 25 "large average" metropolitan areas, along with such peers as San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.

While Baltimore's hours of delay are significantly larger than its peer group average of 37, it is far from the worst. San Diego leads the group with an average of 57 hours of delay. The worst delays occur in Los Angeles, one of 14 "very large average" urban areas, with 72 hours of delay yearly.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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