National News

Study: N.C.'s Traffic Among Most Congested

Posted June 28, 2007

— Motorists in California, Minnesota, New Jersey and North Carolina have been stuck in some of the worst traffic in the United States, according to a study released Thursday.

North Dakota and South Carolina roads rated highest in the study's overall rankings, while New Jersey roads ranked the lowest. The study ranked Montana highways as the deadliest in the nation.

North Carolina has the largest state-owned highway system, at 79,779 miles, and the state scored highly in the areas of receipts per mile of responsibility and capital/bridge disbursements per mile of responsibility, where it placed fourth and sixth, respectively.

But the state's cost advantage is more than offset by deteriorating road conditions, according to the survey. North Carolina ranked 47th in urban interstate congestion, 41st in both rural interstate pavement condition and rural primary pavement condition and 39th in urban interstate pavement condition.

The study, based on data from 1984 through 2005, found that while road conditions have improved in recent years, traffic congestion and highway fatalities have increased slightly.

The state-by-state evaluation of highways was conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and financed by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles.

With the federal highway fund running short of money for major highway projects, state governments are faced with having to pick up a greater share of the cost of building and maintaining highways.

Dr. David T. Hartgen, the highway study's lead author, says the results show that states need to prioritize, directing their transportation money to projects specifically designed to reduce congestion.

"Gridlock isn't going away," Hartgen said.

The study ranked highway systems in each state according to their cost-effectiveness, which was determined with several factors including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs. Evaluations were done on highways and all state-owned roads.

The five states with the most cost-effective roads, according to the study, are North Dakota, South Carolina, Kansas, New Mexico and Montana. The bottom five states are New Jersey, Alaska, New York, Rhode Island and Hawaii.

The study found that traffic fatalities rose by less than 1 percent between 2004 and 2005. Montana had the deadliest roads, with 2.3 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Massachusetts roads were the safest, with 0.8 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.

Congestion rose by a similar amount. According the study, almost 52 percent of the nation's urban interstate highways were regularly congested in 2005, the last year included in the evaluation.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said congestion has nearly tripled in metropolitan areas during the past 25 years despite increases in spending over that period. Resolving the issue has been a priority for the department, which last year announced a plan to combat gridlock through long-terms investments in key corridors.

"It's so important to get our transportation policies headed in the right direction - away from the federal government and back to the states and localities where innovation in America has always originated," she said.

Congress will have to find new sources of revenue if it wants to tackle the problems, said Matt Jeanneret, spokesman for American Road and Transportation Builders Association. His group estimates that Americans spend 47 hours a year stuck in traffic.

"This illustrates the capacity crisis that is facing this country, which is only going to get worse if trends stay the same," Jeanneret said. "We are bursting at the seams with motor vehicles and we're not adding capacity to that."

Janet Kavinoky, who works on transportation issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says the nation's traffic woes are at crisis levels. "There's more bad news coming," she said. "You hate holiday traffic? Pretty soon it's going to be business as usual."

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44 Comments

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  • jgirl5830 Jun 28, 2007

    I agree with ABM- D.C. and other cities are much worse. I'm from NJ and God help you on those roads!! Now thats traffic, try going South on the Garden State pkwy on the weekends, everyone going down the shore....its a complete nightmare. Going into the city in the morning is another problem, and so many people take the train or the bus in and its still a rat race.

  • casp3r Jun 28, 2007

    Well in this picture all I can see is the van looks like it has a passanger. Pay attention next time you are on the highway its mostly one person per car.

  • claudnc Jun 28, 2007

    I think I have to agree with Commnetator on this one - How are places like NY - my goodness NY is always congested. Drive down the FDR or attempt to cross any of the bridges, Throgs Neck, George Washington, Brooklyn Bridge, its horrible. Atlanta is just as bad, Houston is awful. DC and Maryland is the absolute worse... I have been caught in our traffic many times and it just does not compare to some of the other cities... In Maryland there is so much traffic and you are in a jam and there is no accident or anything - its just too many cars on the highway.

  • unc4ever Jun 28, 2007

    Actually, I think the problem is that everytime a new road is constucted, it take at LEAST 5 to 10 years before its usable to drive on. By this time you have another 2.5 million more people crammed on the roads.. Here is a good example... I was pregnant with my first child in 1988. I had her at UNC hospital. She turned 18 in October and that stretch of road from Pittsboro to Chapel Hill was just being completed!!! Now go figure!

  • Mr. French Jun 28, 2007

    May I just take a moment to thank all you folks who moved to this area within the past 15 years for ruining my home town.

  • casp3r Jun 28, 2007

    mt06111= Ann was mocking Bill Maher when he said that he wished our vice president Cheney would be killed in a terrorist attack. She said these liberals get by with saying whatever they want ( it would be like me saying I wish edwards was killed in a terrorist attack ). So go figure you leave out liberals filth but jump on Ann for saying the same thing.

  • Tacoma Jun 28, 2007

    don't worry, once the taxes go up people will stop moving here.

  • get over it people Jun 28, 2007

    The problem is the overwhelming amount of people moving here...and then they complain about the schools. See a pattern. Don't move here!!!!!

  • mt06111 Jun 28, 2007

    ann -dot- culter -at- gmail -dot- com says: "Poor planning is the reason for congestion in the Triangle. 540 @ 70 is the latest example of that. At the same point where two lanes of traffic from 70 merge onto 540, the lanes change from four to three. It seems like they would have learned from the mistakes made with 40."

    How can we take a comment seriously from a person who uses the name Ann Culter? I would've expected you to say that you want our DOT building to be hit with a Terrorist attack. That's something Ann would say.

  • HadEnough Jun 28, 2007

    I would like to run for Governor and here is what I would do first. 1) Fire every politically appointed person in state government. I owe no one any favors. 2) Centralize State Personnel including wage and salary administration. This would save a bunch of money. 3) Bust up DOT. Too many suits there.
    Would anyone here vote for me?

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