DETROIT — Traffic bottlenecks will cost commuters hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade if nothing is done to fix them, according to a new study.
Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Atlanta and Dallas face the highest costs from such bottlenecks, according to the study released Wednesday by Seattle-based traffic data firm Inrix. The study looked at major cities’ traffic hotspots — defined as areas with repeated traffic jams — and ranked them according to the duration, length and frequency of those traffic jams.
The study is the latest attempt to quantify the problem of traffic congestion by Inrix, which collects anonymous data from vehicle navigation systems, GPS systems and smartphones.
“We’re saying, ‘Hey, let’s take an honest look and see what’s going on on all these roads,” says Bob Pishue, Inrix’s senior economist. “Only when we have fully measured this problem can people and governments get together and solve it.”
In a previous study, released in February and based on 2016 data, Inrix calculated that congestion costs U.S. drivers an average of $1,400 per driver each year. That’s mostly the cost of their time and fuel, but also the increased cost they pay for goods. If a vegetable truck sat in traffic and used more fuel, for example, a grocery store might have to charge more for the vegetables.
The latest study narrowed its focus to the 100,000 traffic hotspots within the largest 25 cities in the U.S. Inrix measured traffic patterns at those spots in March and April of this year.
New York had the most hotspots, at 13,608. But Los Angeles topped New York in the rankings because of the severity and frequency of its traffic jams. At one Los Angeles hotspot — where U.S. 101 South connects to CA-134 and CA-170 — the average length of a traffic jam is 355 minutes, and it stretches for an average of 4 miles. Inrix counted 108 traffic jams at that spot in the two-month period.
The worst hotspot in the country was in…