OLYMPIA – Washingtonians spent 16 percent more time looking at brake lights in 2011 than they did in 2009 as congestion and traffic delay increased on state highways. Despite the surge, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s 2012 Congestion Report notes that traffic increased by 3 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Data for the past five years shows that 2009 had the least congestion, and since then, congestion has increased as the economy slowly improves and more people return to work. Meanwhile, congestion in 2011 was still below pre-recession levels.
WSDOT released its annual Congestion Report this week, providing an in-depth analysis of 52 central Puget Sound and two Spokane-area commute routes as well as information on how transportation systems are performing statewide.
“This report plays an important role by presenting the data we use to analyze how our highways are performing,” said Daniela Bremmer, WSDOT director of strategic assessment. “It also serves as a tool that we and our local and federal partners rely on as we look ahead and collaborate on how to strategically invest our resources to improve how our highways perform.”
To this end, WSDOT is using Moving Washington strategies to operate efficiently, manage demand and add capacity to improve drive times and highway safety. This effort is seeing successes, as noted in the report’s Before and After case studies of several statewide projects.
Highlights from the latest edition include:
• Data on vehicle miles traveled on all public roads show that each Washingtonian drove 50 fewer miles in 2011 than in 2009, and 88 fewer miles than in 2010.
• Traffic delay in 2011 cost drivers and businesses approximately $780 million, approximately 16 percent higher than the $674 million in 2009.
• High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes continue to be more reliable than general purpose lanes and most carried more people in 2011 compared to 2010.
• WSDOT’s Incident Response program helped keep traffic moving and helped clear 44,492 incidents, providing drivers and businesses more than $72 million in economic benefits in 2011.
To find out more about WSDOT accountability and view the 2012 Congestion Report, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/Accountability/Graynotebook.