Holy Cow! Chicago is #1 in road congestion in the United States… You don’t say?!
The Urban Mobility Report found that Chicagoans waste 70 an additional hours a year sitting in traffic. Those working a 40 hour per week corporate job, that is an additional 9 work days (almost 2 weeks!) you spend stuck in gridlock. That lost time and additional gas needed cost the average commuter an additional $1,738 for the year. For a city that is facing a $1 Billion budget deficit, the loss of revenue from commuters stuck in traffic could help solve our current problems.
I have a two part theory of why Chicago has moved up the list of highest domestic traffic.
1) Lack of public transportation. The Chicago metro area has over 9.5 Million people, with only 2.9M living in the City of Chicago. The only public option to the deep suburbs (North, West and South) from the city is the Metra. Most trains run once every few hours and their stops aren’t located in the most desirable city neighborhoods. Making a car a much more convenient option for those heading in to the city. For reverse commuters heading to the suburbs for work, they have to either live near a stop (somewhere west of the highway) or they have to drive to the stop, park, and wait for the Metra again before departing.
2) There has been ongoing construction on all the major highways for the last 3 years. After Obama passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, the state tore up 290, 94 and 294 basically from the city to as far north or west that they run. That has caused an already packed highway to be backed up 24/7. My guess was that they really wanted to re-do the highways so that Chicago would be ready for the 2016 Olympics (which was an epic fail). There has been constant construction on these roads for the last few years, adding to the time spent sitting in traffic.
Just something to think about for you the drivers to think about in traffic today. As if today being the coldest day of the year wasn’t enough to make you want to miss your commute!