Austin drivers wasting more than 100 hours in gridlock

Last year the average Austin driver wasted 104 hours sitting in traffic.

"I would say at least that. I would say probably double in my case if I was still working," said Joanna King. King says she's moved away from the traffic a little bit but she did live in northwest Austin while she worked in southeast Austin.

"I didn't like doing that commute.  I'd have to leave at 6:45 in the morning to get there," King said.  

That brutal commute, King says, was a factor in changing jobs.

"Now I work from home and it's a lot better situation," she said.  

That 104-hour number is from a "Global Traffic Scorecard" courtesy of roadway data analytics company Inrix. The study says Austin ranks 14th most congested city in the United States. "The goal of this study is to give a basis for people across the United States to compare just how much time they're losing in traffic and how do we address this issue," said Inrix analyst and study author Trevor Reed.

The so-called "cost of congestion" for commuters: according to Inrix it's the dollar amount attached to being in traffic. For Austin drivers it's $1,452. "The Federal Highway Administration places the value of 1 hour at $14 and we multiplied $14 x that 104 number to deliver the 'cost of congestion' per commuter," Reed said.  

For all Austin commuters together: $1.2 billion.

Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director of Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority says as far as the Inrix study, it's always good to get woken up to the reality of what's happening in the community.

"Keeps it in front of us as community leaders to make sure that we don't lose focus," Heiligenstein said.

Heiligenstein says projects like the coming-soon 183 South and eventually MoPac South will really help. But we should also look outside the box of highway improvements.

He says congestion at peak hours has been growing. "That's the issue with Central that we have a lot of capacity 20 hours out of the day.  But for four hours out of the day it's miserable," he said.

Heiligenstein says employers could do some shifting around of work schedules to get people out of congestion. "The old 8 to 5 work day is probably a dinosaur in terms of Central Texas and we need to be looking at 7 to 4's, 6 to 3's and other work parameters that get people on the roads."



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