The average American living in one of the 10 most congested cities in the U.S. wasted about 47 hours in traffic last year – roughly equivalent to 10 minutes per workday or a week's worth of vacation. That's according to a new report from Inrix, a Washington-based traffic-analysis company that studies road congestion in the country's 100 biggest cities. The news isn't all bad, though: Traffic can be a sign that there are more jobs.
"We call it the trafficonomy," says Jim Bak, author of the report. "More activity on the roads means more jobs and consumer spending. So there were slumps from 2008 to 2012, and now, we're seeing signs of life."
And where there are more job opportunities, there is more traffic. So if you're being recruited by a company in Boston, Austin, Bridgeport, or the seven other cities in this list, you might want to take into account the eight days you'll spend with a foot on the brake.
Here are the 10 worst cities to have a morning commute, and a few tips for getting around the gridlock.
10. Washington, D.C.
The District is notorious for its agonizing traffic, and most of it can be concentrated to two major highways: I-495, also known as the Beltway, which encircles the city in one big, slow loop, and I-395, which connects Northern Virginia and downtown D.C. Washingtonians spent an average of 40 hours in traffic last year, which is actually a decrease of an hour from 2012.
“Washington, for the most part, revolves around government," reasons Bak. "When the government is humming, the city thrives, but the government shut for a month in October and government hiring in Washington dropped 2 percent last year. Yes, it’s a small drop, but it’s enough to cause a shift in commuter behavior. You could argue that without the sequester, the traffic numbers probably would have stayed the same.”
Worst Corridor: I-395/I-95 between Franconia Road and Russell Road, a stretch of nearly 24 miles.
Worst Hour: Fridays at 4 p.m.
Travel Tip: Use the Metro. There are Metro stations peppering the suburbs outside the District, many with large parking lots. It's highly recommended to drive, park and ride.
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