Chart of the Week: The Cost of the Country’s Worst Traffic Bottlenecks

Andrew Keatts | @Andy_Keatts | November 25, 2015

Image via flickr/Jonathan Kos-Read.

Image via flickr/Jonathan Kos-Read.

Big-city commuters waste roughly $2.5 billion each year waiting in congestion just from the country’s 50-worst traffic bottlenecks.

In a new study released this week, the nonprofit group American Highway Users Alliance, which advocates governments to commit to major highway construction projects, quantified the worst highway bottlenecks in the country based on observed traveling speeds from 2014.

The chart below shows how many of the worst 50 bottlenecks are located in each American city.

And if you add up all the time people spend stuck in gridlock just from those 50 spots, and assign it the value of each state’s average value of an hour of volunteer time, those locations alone eat up over $2 billion a year in productivity.

While Chicago has the honor of being home to the worst backup in the county, Los Angeles can boast having more than 20 percent of the worst congestion spots, with 12 of the top 50 locations.

Houston, meanwhile, is home to three such locations. Delays at I-610 between Richmond Avenue and Post Oak Boulevard, and on the Southwest Freeway between Hazard Street and Buffalo Speedway, combine to reach 2.4 million hours per year. Another major backup spot on I-290 between I-610 and Mangum Road costs drivers 800,000 hours of delay per year. The three spots alone combine for $78 million of lost value each year.

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