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Houston traffic congestion 7th worst in US, says new Texas A&M study

Researchers found the Houston metro area had the 7th-highest total congestion in the country.

HOUSTON — Houston drivers spent 75 hours stuck in traffic during a recent year and lost nearly $1,400 in wasted time and gas, according to a new study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Researchers found the Houston metro area had the 7th-highest total congestion in the country after analyzing traffic data on streets and highways in 494 urban areas nationwide.

“The Houston congestion is growing, and it’s been an uptick in the last few years as well,” said Bill Eisele, one of the authors of the 2019 Urban Mobility Report. “It’s not only a big city problem, and it’s also spreading outside of the peak periods.”

Eisele and his team at TTI found Houston-area drivers lost 247,440,000 hours total on the road in 2017, or about 75 hours per person at a cost of $1,376 per commuter. For comparison, commuters in 1987 spent 41 hours stuck in traffic.

Like the other 10 most congested cities in the TTI study, Houston’s population has grown over time, and so has the job market.

“It’s economic vitality, oil and gas jobs, all the other jobs and attractiveness of Houston,” Eisele said. “It’s a high job area and there’s a very good economy in the area right now, and all that brings extra people, extra traffic, extra congestion.”

The study found the average freeway traveler now has to budget almost twice as much travel time to make things like medical appointments, day care pickup and flights.

Researchers also posed several solutions beyond building more roads and transit. Those include adjusting signal timing and using Transtar cameras to move traffic more efficiently on existing roads, staggering work hours, increasing teleworking, and changing land use to build homes, workplaces, and other common destinations closer to each other.


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