Washington, Feb 6 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Washington is known as the city of political gridlock, but it is also the city with the worst traffic gridlock in the US, according to a new report.
The 2012 Annual Urban Mobility Report, released Tuesday by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) finds Washington drivers spent an extra 67 hours in traffic because of congestion in 2011, the highest in the nation.
The national average for large areas is 52 more hours.
"We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival," said Bill Eisele, a TTI researcher and co-author of the report in a statement.
"As bad as traffic jams are, it's even more frustrating that you can't depend on traffic jams being consistent from day-to-day. This unreliable travel is costly for commuters and truck drivers moving goods," he added.
All that extra time adds up to a lot of extra money, too, $121 billion, to be precise. That's how much additional money Americans paid in time and fuel costs related to congestion in 2011, according to TTI.
A new feature of the report this year is something the researchers call the Planning Time Index, or PTI, which lets drivers in various cities calculate how much extra time they need to allow in order to get somewhere on time.
In Washington, the number is 5.72. So if a trip normally takes 30 minutes in light traffic, drivers need to multiply 30 by 5.72. That comes to 171.6 minutes - or nearly three hours to arrive on time.
And all those cars sitting in traffic for hours adds to carbon dioxide emissions, an additional 56 billion pounds (25.4 billion kg) per year in the US, about 380 pounds (172 kg) per driver, according to the report.
And things are only going to get worse. The report said that unless something is done about traffic, by 2020 the average US driver will spend seven more hours in traffic each year.
After Washington, the other most congested cities in the US are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle.
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