Aside from the obvious, SFians: be glad you don’t live in Washington. According to the annual Texas Transportation Urban Mobility Report, the nation’s capital is the US’s most congested major metro, if 2010 traffic figures are to be believed. As the Chron reports, our congested area dropped from 6th to 7th on the list, missing the top 5 of worst places to drive for only the second time in 29 years. Drivers rejoice but be warned: the reason may be due to rampant unemployment in the Bay Area.
Though such helpful renovations as San Rafael’s rebuilding of the 101/580 interchange and the opening of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge in 2007, our tech-savvy region is still down 500,000 jobs from 2000’s dot-com boom. And no jobs means no one has to be at work, sending fewer to the roads for rush hour (or any other hour, one supposes).
Bay Area Council Jim Wunderman tells the Chron that now’s the time to continue to improve roads in the Bay Area. Eventually (we hope!) jobs will bounce back in the region and once they do, congestion will follow.
Says Wunderman, whose regional business group also deals with issues of transportation, “My concern is that a report like this might make us complacent – and we shouldn’t be,” he said. “Our investment in transportation is on the downslope. Unless we quicken the pace of investment, we will be near the top of the peak congestion list again.”
Even if no improvements come, NorCal folk can still take pride in the fact that Los Angeles is 3rd on the list. We win?