Metro Atlanta ranks in top third of global rankings of traffic congestion

By David Pendered

Moscow is ranked as the world’s worst city for traffic congestion, but motorists there travel 3 mph faster than drivers in Atlanta when it comes to the rate of travel on the last inner city mile, according to a report that could fuel conversation at Tuesday’s meeting about express lanes along Ga. 400.

Traffic, 75, 285

Traffic congestion may be eased in the southbound approach of I-285 toward I-20 upon completion of a rework of the interchange that’s to start in 2023. Credit: David Pendered

The meeting is the second of four public information open houses scheduled by the Georgia Department of Transportation to gather comments about the proposal. The final two are scheduled March 7 in Roswell and March 12 in Sandy Springs.

The traffic congestion report was released in mid February by INRIX, a West Coast company. The report releases the analysis of vehicular travel that was collected in 220 cities located in 38 countries spanning six continents, according to the company’s report.

INREX’s report confirms the obvious for metro Atlanta commuters – traveling by vehicle can be slow and tedious. On the international ranking, the findings for metro Atlanta show:

  • 2018 global rank: 71, out of 220;
  • Hours lost in congestion: 108;
  • Cost of congestion per driver: $1,505;
  • Inner city last speed mile: 14 mph (Moscow’s rate is 11 mph.)

The report also offered the following bullet points from four cities across the globe:

Traffic, 285, truck merge

The close proximity of trucks and passenger vehicles on I-285 near Mableton calls for all drivers to have steady nerves. Credit: David Pendered

  • Bogata drivers lost more time to traffic congestion than commuters in any other city in the world – 272 hours;
  • London drivers lost 227 hours to being stuck in traffic;
  • Boston drivers paid a premium of $2,291 for time lost in traffic congestion.
  • Dublin drivers traveled at 5.9 mph during downtown peak times, less than twice as fast as the average pedestrian speed of 3.1 mph.

Georgia’s Department of Transportation didn’t miss a beat to publicize the good news about commute times in metro Atlanta, compared to other cities included in INRIX’s study.

GDOT officials looked at a chart that focuses on cities in the U.S. and observed in a statement:

  • “Atlanta ranks No. 11 among the top 25 most congested cities in the U.S. – significantly lower than other major U.S. cities across the nation, including Boston (No. 1), Washington D.C (No. 2), Chicago (No. 3) and New York City (No. 4), according to data collected in 2018 by INRIX Research. 2017 data collected by INRIX ranked Atlanta No. 4 in the U.S.
    “Additionally, none of Atlanta’s significant transportation corridors were named in the global organization’s Top 10 Worst U.S. Corridors list. New York City’s Cross Bronx Expressway, Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway and Los Angeles’ Interstate 10 were named the worst corridors in the nation.”

Andrew Heath, GDOT’s state traffic engineer, attributed the region’s relative vehicular mobility to relief provided through the construction of tolled express lanes.

“The Georgia Department of Transportation has made significant progress in improving mobility throughout the state in recent years,” Heath said in a statement. “We will continue to make strides to enhance our roadways by reducing congestion and improving safety and functionality across the board.”

The Ga. 400 express lane project and two others in metro Atlanta are named in GDOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program. The other two projects involve retooling the interchanges of I-285 at I-20 East and I-20 West. Work is to begin at I-20 East in 2022 and in 2023 at I-20 West.

Other big projects already online include the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes; I-75 South Metro Express Lanes; and I-85 Express Lanes Extension.

 

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

1 reply
  1. Avatar
    captaingridlock says:

    INRIX’s studies badly exaggerate the cost of congestion. See Todd Litman’s piece on Planetizen:
    https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/102904-no-traffic-congestion-does-not-really-cost-every-american-1348-annually

    GDOT’s toll lanes just movie the congestion to new places; the lanes do not actually reduce congestion.. This should be obvious to anyone who drives around the region. Travel times on the I-85 corridor went to hell when they stole a lane and tolled it.

    The 575 corridor also turned to crap when they opened the toll lane there. The handful of drivers weaving across the on ramp at Route 92 over to the Toll entrance backs up the corridor for everyone else.Report

    Reply

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