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.
Austin's surge in popularity is no secret. The quirky Texas city is affordable compared to many of the other cities on this list, and there's no state income tax.
“Austin is a perfect example of why cities with newly thriving economies encounter traffic issues," Bak says. "Austin has two universities, a strong tech industry, and a rapidly growing entertainment market. The population grew 6 percent last year, and the city estimates that about 100 people a week are moving to Austin. All good things, of course, but it’s also tough to meet that kind of demand in terms of infrastructure.”
In 2013, Austin drivers wasted approximately 41 hours in traffic on average, which is an increase of 3 hours from 2012.
Worst Corridor: I-35 southbound between exits 235A/Martin Luther King Blvd. and 237/Airpot Blvd.
Worst Hour: Thursdays at 5 p.m.
Travel Tip: I-35 splits into two decks (and upper and a lower) between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Airport Boulevard, north of downtown. The upper lanes are express lanes with no on-or-off-ramps, so use these if you don't need to exit between Martin Luther King and Airport Boulevards.
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