OLYMPIA – Washington’s drivers moved faster on the state’s highways and with less congestion in 2009 compared to 2007. The economic recession and completion of major congestion-relief highway projects contributed to fewer delays and shorter travel times on high-demand corridors.
In 2009, commuters spent nearly one hour less in traffic congestion than in 2007. Average peak commute travel times improved on 31 of 38 high-demand routes in central Puget Sound. In addition, estimated economic costs statewide for drivers and businesses due to delay declined by 21 percent compared to 2007.
The Washington State Department of Transportation recently released its 2010 Annual Congestion Report, which includes results of an in-depth analysis of travel times, delay and congestion duration for commutes in 52 central Puget Sound and two in Spokane.
“We’re seeing the benefits of the transportation investments that have been made in our most congested corridors,” said Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond. “These strategic investments help keep people and freight moving and our economy growing.”
In 2007, 34 mobility projects funded by 2003 and 2005 transportation funding packages had been completed. By Sept. 30, 2010, a cumulative total of 70 such projects were completed and open to drivers. Mobility projects are those designed to alleviate congestion by addressing bottlenecks through one of three Moving Washington strategies in specific congested locations. These 70 projects are valued at $2.4 billion.
An analysis of the “before and after” results for these completed projects shows measurable benefits to commuters on such routes as I-405, I-5, State Route 518, SR 18, SR 167 and I-205. Since the Oct. 2009 opening of an additional lane on northbound I-405 between Coal Creek Parkway and I-90, the morning commute travel time improved from 43 minutes in 2008 to 22 minutes in 2009, a 48 percent reduction.
The full 2010 Annual Congestion Report can be viewed at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Accountability/Congestion/2010.htm