Both the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s reported last week that there are five (5) stretches of roads in the Chicago area that are ranked within the top twenty (2) most congested in the United States.
The results are based on a study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute called the Urban Mobility Scorecard. No. 4 nationally was I-90/94 westbound from 35th Street to the Edens junction. The eastbound stretch from Montrose Avenue to Ruble Street, just south of Roosevelt Road, ranked No. 7 nationally. No. 14 nationally was the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) eastbound starting at the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and extending to the Kennedy at the Edens (I-94) merge. The study concluded that the Chicago area ranked No. 8 overall for the nation’s worse traffic.
As I have discussed recently on this blog, a portion of the traffic problem (and the increase in Illinois traffic accidents) is that the economy has rebounded and there are more drivers on the road. “The national congestion recession is over,” the report concluded. “The total congestion problem is larger than the pre-recession levels.”
What does this mean for Chicago drivers and their commute times? A driver in the Chicago region who really needs to arrive on time at a destination that is 20 minutes away in light traffic should instead budget a full hour to get there during peak travel times, said Bill Eisele, a senior research engineer at the transportation institute and the report’s co-author.
What is the solution to this gridlock? The authors of this study believe that lawmakers must act aggressively to address the traffic issues before the problems get worse. Experts say possible enhancements include expanding roadway capacity, providing incentives for people to alter their travel times away from the 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. peak hours, and expanding public transit and attracting new riders with new services that include new rail lines and bus rapid transit, airport express trains and options directed at luring reverse commuters from their cars to trains and buses.