I-95 gridlock, photo courtesy of VDOT.

If you have ever driven in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta or Dallas, you will very much agree their traffic is horrific.  And it is…all rank in the top five for the worst traffic in metropolitan areas.  But DC likes traffic misery too. We ranked third, just behind LA and New York.  But wait, we beat them out in a new analysis – worst traffic hotspot in the US.  Congratulations to Northern Virginia!

As reported recently in the Washington Post, INRIX, a traffic analysis and traffic app company, surveyed metropolitan areas over a two month period (March-April) to ascertain where and how many times traffic back ups occurred, and then put dollar figures on what the lost time and productivity cost each metro region.  The I-95 south segment between the Fairfax County Parkway and Fredericksburg took the gold medal for worst traffic hotspot in the US.

Anyone who commutes this segment of roadway would never disagree, but the analysis brings to light just what these commuters experience every day, a “whopping 23 traffic jams a day” and they lose “an average 33 minutes in backups that leave brake lights stretching an average 6.5 miles.”

Those are truly painful numbers, but wait, there is even more alarming news for our region.  The WaPost article goes on to note that “If congestion doesn’t improve over the next decade, the researchers said, that stretch of I-95 will cost local motorists $2.3 billion in wasted time, lost fuel and additional carbon emissions.”  And that is just on one segment of our region’s road network.

Two more segments made the nation’s top 25 – “Northbound I-95 from an area south of Fredericksburg to Exit 143 (Garrisonville Road), also in Northern Virginia, came in seventh with “936 traffic jams,” and “the eastern part of the Capital Beltway between Kenilworth Avenue (Route 201) and just east of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County ranked ninth worst with nearly 700 backups.”

INRIX conducted this research to assist policy makers to prioritize where to dedicate scarce funding for infrastructure improvements…  essentially what gives public investments the most bang for buck.  This type of analysis also demonstrates, at least to those who work in the alternative mobility fields, the needs to find transportation alternatives for these commuting corridors.