Friday, December 21, 2007

Regional Traffic Congestion--Still Getting Worse

The Puget Sound region’s economy and population have continued to grow--and along with them, traffic delays--according to the Washington State Department of Transportation's Annual Congestion Report. Released yesterday, the report provides detailed analysis of the 38 most congested highway routes in the region, and (not surprisingly) it shows that commuters are traveling at slightly slower speeds and spending longer periods of time in traffic.

From 2004 to 2006, the Puget Sound region added 91,000 new jobs and 107,000 new residents; consequently, more people had to travel on the same roads at the same time. Overall, average travel times increased on 32 routes, decreased on three routes and remained constant on three routes. Travel time increased from one to seven minutes over the two-year period.

To effectively address growing congestion across the region, WSDOT will continue to emphasize key congestion management objectives--"maximizing system throughput and enhancing reliability"--through sustained focus on three strategies:
  • Managing demand (i.e., building HOV lanes, supporting Commute Trip Reduction efforts, and using technology to offer more real-time information);
  • Operating efficiently (i.e., installing ramp meters, synchronizing traffic signals, and deploying incident response units);
  • Adding capacity (i.e., completing capital projects).