Chicago Worst in Commuter Traffic in the United States

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The Chicago region is now ranked No. 1 in road congestion in the U.S., according to a long-running study of commuting and mobility problems in the United States.

Data was measured in 2009, when drivers in many other metropolitan areas caught a slight breather from growing congestion.

Beyond the time it normally takes when roads are clear, commuters in the Chicago area, including northwest Indiana, spent an additional 70 hours behind the wheel in 2009, the study said.

The national average was 34 hours.

In earlier studies the Chicago region ranked No. 2 or No. 3 in most measurements of congestion and delay.

According to the report, the 70 hours of delay here in 2009 was up from 64 hours of extra driving in 2008 in the Chicago area, 55 hours of wasted time in 1999 and 18 hours in 1982,.

“In terms of the delay for each auto commuter, Chicago now tips the scales at No. 1, where in the past Los Angeles was locked in that spot,” said David Schrank, an associate research scientist at the institute and a co-author of the report.

The Chicago area also ranked No. 1 in the cost of congestion to each individual commuter — $1,738 on average for each person for all of 2009.

Congestion cost the nation $115 billion in 2009 and caused commuters to travel 4.8 billion hours more and buy an extra 3.9 billion gallons of fuel, the report said.

The data was collected from 439 urban areas.

For an in-depth analysis of the study, see Chicago No. 1 in road congestion by TRIBUNE REPORTER Jon Hilkevitch.

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