Chicago ranks third for worst commute

  • A new traffic study shows that Chicago ranks third in congested commutes in the country. Experts say we lose 40 hours a year sitting in traffic and could oftentimes ride a bike faster to work.

    A new traffic study shows that Chicago ranks third in congested commutes in the country. Experts say we lose 40 hours a year sitting in traffic and could oftentimes ride a bike faster to work. Daily Herald File

 
 
Updated 3/9/2011 11:02 AM

Chicago once again can claim the unfortunate title of being among the top cities in the United States for traffic congestion, ranking third behind Los Angeles and New York.

The new study released this week shows that we spend more than a month every year sitting in traffic, an increase of 10 percent over last year. Despite drops in unemployment, traffic congestion increased for 11 consecutive months and for nearly every hour of the day in 2010 in nearly every city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"America is back on the road to gridlock," said Bryan Mistele, president and CEO of Inrix, which compiled the report. "Population growth combined with increases in interstate commerce spurred by economic recovery are fueling these increases. With only 150,000 new jobs created in our nation's urban centers last year, we can expect even worse gridlock when the 6 million jobs lost in the recession return to the nation's cities."

Where is the worst traffic jam in Chicago?

A 16 mile stretch of the Kennedy/Dan Ryan Expressway eastbound from the Tri-State to the Ruble Street exit where drivers, on average, spend 49 minutes covering those 16 miles and 32 minutes of that attributed to "delays." The study showed that during rush hour, it'll take you 195 percent longer to get through there.

If you drive this stretch, you'll spend more than a one month stuck in traffic and could ride a bike faster than you could drive your car to work, Inrix says.

When is the worst time to hit the roads? Fridays at 5:15 p.m. when your commute will last an average 41 percent longer the normal. Tuesday mornings are the second worst.

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When is the best time to drive? Monday mornings and Monday afternoons or Fridays at 6 a.m.

Experts predict the congestion will only get worse this year as hiring picks up.

If unemployment drops to 7 percent by 2012 as economists' predict, 9 million more daily work trips will jam our nation's road network, Inrix says.

Nationwide, Americans traveling the nation's worst traffic corridors experience up to 80 hours of delay annually on the afternoon commute. Over 500 miles of roads were congested 25 hours a week or more, nearly 200 of those miles were congested 40 hours a week or more -- higher than any previous year.

Inrix compiled the report by using GPS to track more than 4 million vehicles traveling the roads everyday including taxis, airport shuttles, service delivery vans, long haul trucks as well as consumer vehicles and mobile devices. Each data report includes the speed, location and heading of a particular vehicle at a reported date and time. In creating the score card, Inrix analyzes information for every road segment during every hour of the day to generate the most comprehensive and timely congestion analyses to date, covering the largest 100 metropolitan areas and the nation's entire highway, interstate and limited access road network.