Seattle ties for 10th-worst traffic delays
Seattle was tied with Atlanta for having the nation's 10th-worst traffic delays in 2009, says the latest annual report by the Texas Transportation Institute.
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Seattle was tied with Atlanta for having the nation's 10th-worst traffic delays in 2009, says the latest annual report by the Texas Transportation Institute, released Wednesday night.
Drivers here spent an average 44 hours a year in delays, down from 47 hours a year earlier. Chicago and Washington, D.C., are tied for the worst, at 70 hours.
The report observes that in Seattle, Honolulu and Pittsburgh, "water features, hills and other geographic elements cause more traffic congestion than regions with several alternative routes."
The new research is more accurate than in the past, the institute says, because it uses not only the usual traffic volume data from state governments, but also travel-time reports by Kirkland-based INRIX, which collects speed data from thousands of private and commercial vehicles.
Researchers lament that "rush hour" lasts about five hours a day in nearly all urban areas with a population of more than 1 million — and they predict congestion will worsen once the economy returns to growth.
The findings match a separate report Wednesday by the Seattle Department of Transportation, which found traffic dropping from 920,000 average daily trips within city limits for 2008 (and 975,000 trips in 2003) to 900,000 trips in 2009.
Previously, the state DOT reported reductions in congestion for 2009 because of the recession, and certain highway-widening projects, for instance Interstate 405 south of downtown Bellevue.
The Greater Seattle area, now home to 3.2 million people, ranked only No. 19 for traffic delays in 1982, but soared to No. 2 nationally in the late '90s. The region's rank dropped in the '00s, partly because of new methodology that recognizes Seattle's network of relatively efficient carpool lanes.
Some of the Seattle city report's most provocative findings involve car-pedestrian collisions, a major focus of the current city council. There were 479 of them in 2009 — close to the nine-year average of 485 crashes. Of those, 251 were blamed at least in part on drivers, 215 of whom failed to yield right of way.
There were 13,343 crashes in Seattle, one-fourth involving parked cars. Twenty-four people died: 11 pedestrians, nine in motor vehicles and four bicyclists.
About 53 percent of Seattle residents drove to work alone in 2008, the report says, citing a federal survey. An additional 18 percent rode transit, 10 percent carpooled, 9 percent walked, 3 percent bicycled, and 7 percent answered "other."
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or email@example.com
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