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Study finds traffic getting worse

The Urban Mobility Report looked at 68 cities across the country rating the areas in several categories, and Los Angeles ranked worst in every major measure  

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Traffic is getting worse: The average American spends 36 hours per year stuck in traffic, up from 11 hours in 1982, according to a study released Monday.

And rush "hour" is a misnomer, with city streets and highways often congested for six to seven hours per day, the report found.

The Urban Mobility Report looked at 68 cities across the country in an annual study from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University in College Station. The 2001 report used 1999 data -- the most recent year for which good numbers are available, researchers said.

The report rated cities in several categories, and Los Angeles ranked worst in every major measure.


That includes something that's new this year, the Travel Time Index, which measures how much longer a trip takes during rush-hour vs. non-rush-hour traffic, factoring in delays from accidents, volume and other causes. For Los Angeles, it takes the average person about twice as long to make a trip in rush-hour conditions. The other top 10 cities with the worst rush hours: Seattle, San Francisco, Washington and Boston (tie), New York, Chicago, Portland, San Diego and Atlanta.

Los Angeles also leads the Travel Rate Index, which also measures the difference between peak and off-peak travel, but only takes volume delays -- not accidents or other factors -- into account. The other top cities in that category were: San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, Chicago and San Diego (tie), Boston, Portland, and Atlanta and Las Vegas (tie).

Then there's the Annual Delay Per Person, measured in hours. The report crowns L.A. king here, too, with the average Angeleno spending 56 hours a year stuck in traffic. The rest of that list: Seattle and Atlanta, tied at 53 hours; Houston, 50; Dallas and Washington, 46; Denver and Austin, 45; St. Louis, 44; and Miami, 42.

The study found the total congestion "bill" for the 68 cities in 1999 came to $78 billion in lost productivity, 4.5 billion hours of delay and 6.8 billion gallons of wasted fuel.

The researchers said building more roads can help, but that won't be enough. Making existing road systems work more efficiently, getting more people to carpool or use public transportation, and shifting trips to off-peak hours could also alleviate the crunch, they said.

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TTI Urban Mobility Study

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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