March 10, 2020 11:45 AM, EDT

Inrix Study: Boston Ranks as Most Congested US City

Boston at nightA view of Boston at night. For the second consecutive year, it was named the nation's most congested city. (Getty Images)

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Boston is home to the Pats, the Sox and wicked traffic. A report published March 9 determined Beantown’s average driver spent nearly 150 hours a year stuck in traffic, good enough to be named the most congested city in the country and ninth in the world.

“Boston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and is also so geographically constrained with water,” said Trevor Reed, an analyst with transportation analytics firm Inrix Inc., about Inrix’s 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard.

The city’s vehicular congestion cost it $4.1 billion, with an impact to the average motorist of $2,205. Last-mile speeds averaged 12 mph. Boston also topped Inrix’s 2018 list. “So when you have to cross water, innately you’re creating a bottleneck at a bridge or a tunnel. And so you have really constrained geography in an old city and a neglected public transit system with a lot of growth,” Reed told Transport Topics.

Cities ranked behind Boston were Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Washington. Chicago ranked 10th on the international list, right behind Boston. Bogota, Colombia, earned the dubious distinction of the most congested city. Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Istanbul and São Paulo made up the top five.

For the past two years, Wichita, Kan., recorded the lowest congestion levels, as drivers were determined to have wasted less than two hours annually in traffic.

“Drivers in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia lose the most time annually to traffic congestion with 149, 145 and 142 hours, respectively,” according to the report. “Their geography, age and density create road networks that enter severe breakdown once traffic strikes.”

Interstate 5 in Los Angeles

Interstate 5 in Los Angeles between interstates 10 and 605 was named the most congested road in the country, with a daily delay time of 20 minutes. (Getty Images)

In a category focused specifically on roadways, Los Angeles was home to the most congested roads in the country in the 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard. Interstate 5 from I-10 to I-605 recorded a daily delay time of 20 minutes, while U.S. 101 from state Route 134 to state Route 110 ranked second on the list. Los Angeles was sixth on the most congested list for cities with drivers stuck in traffic 103 hours annually on average.

Other severely congested corridors were the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and I-95 in New York, as well as Atlanta’s I-85/I-75, which rounded out the top five most congested roadways.

“Surprisingly, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., do not have any corridors in the top 10, despite placing in the top five for congestion nationally,” the report concluded. “It is attributable to congestion being more evenly distributed across their metros, instead of concentrated on a few major interstates.”

Overall, the average driver in the country is estimated to have lost 99 hours a year stuck in traffic, costing $1,377. To gather information for its 2019 report, analysts relied on metrics such as anonymous data from phones, cars, trucks and cities. Also, the report calculated trip times for biking and public transport.

2019 INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard by Transport Topics on Scribd

Reliable data is a tool essential for tackling congestion concerns, the report claimed.

“Congestion costs Americans billions of dollars each year. However, it appears to be stabilizing in some of the country’s most congested metros — with delays raising roughly 3% nationwide since 2017,” Reed said in a statement. “The continued innovation and investment in smarter roadway management is showing early signs of progress.”

Inrix’s rankings mirrored the American Transportation Research Institute’s report of the nation’s worst truck corridor chokepoints. The intersection of I-95 and state Route 4 in Fort Lee, N.J., along the George Washington Bridge, topped the list of truck bottlenecks. The remainder of ATRI’s top five were Atlanta’s I-285 at I-85 North interchange, Nashville’s I-24/I-40 at I-440 East interchange, Houston’s I-45 at I-69/U.S. 59 interchange, and Atlanta’s I-75 at I-285 North interchange.

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