Our Place in the Universe: 10th worst traffic
We're no longer the worst city in the country when it comes to long commutes, congestion, and other traffic woes. According to a recent report from Urban Mobility
(the standard for traffic studies), the metro area has the tenth worst traffic in the country.
Over the past twelve years, the organization's annual report had occasionally listed Atlanta as having the worst traffic in the country or at least put our city near the top of the list. The study asserts that Georgians waste an average of 44 hours per year in their commutes, significantly less than the 70 hours per year lost by your average Chicago or DC denizen. Those two metro areas tied to snag the superlative for worst traffic in the country. Urban Mobility argues that the improvement in travel conditions largely comes from GDOT's $500 million investment in traffic technology (HERO units, traffic cameras, and ramp meters) over the past five years.
I'm none too pleased with our national demotion, and I question some of the findings. As the citizens whom the AJC interviewed for its article on the study
repeatedly stated, traffic still sucks in Atlanta. At least when we held the superlative, we could take solace in some sort of accomplishment, but now we can't even claim that. But here's one silver lining: The study may be flawed. Its data comes from 2009, still in the heat of the recession. At the time, Georgia was (and still is, natch) experiencing an unemployment rate higher than the national average
. With fewer cars on the road thanks to fewer people with jobs to go to, it's not such a shock that we dropped a few spots. Of course, Illinois and DC both also suffered higher-than-average rates (even higher than ours)
, so maybe my goal of finding a flaw with the data is just a pipe dream.
(In case you want to go somewhere with next to no traffic problems, hit up McAllen, Texas, which ranked last at 101st on Urban Mobility's list.)