DC is Number 1 (…in Traffic Congestion)

September 27th, 2011

Inspired by We’re No. 1 in traffic gridlock: 3 days out of the year spent in tie-ups; D.C. area surpasses Chicago, Los Angeles (Washington Post9/27/11).


“Projections by the Metropolitan WashingtonCouncil of Governments suggest that without significant investment in highways and transit, congestion could stifle the region’s desire to grow. By 2030, the regional population is estimated to increase by 1.2 million, newcomers drawn by 874,000 new jobs. Public transit, one possible source of relief, has its own issues. Washington’s deteriorating Metro system is in the midst of a $5 billion capital improvement effort just to increase safety and bring the system into good repair.” – Washington Post


Republicans bridle at the suggestion

That infrastructure investment would reduce congestion.


That would mean more government spending,

Which right-wingers are obsessed with ending.


They’d rather ignore the negative impacts

And have us keep paying their traffic tax.


The time we spend in traffic is a tax, just like any other tax Republicans are so opposed to. But it’s an invisible tax, unlike the income taxes collected by our despised national seat,WashingtonD.C.

Perhaps just retribution, that same WashingtonD.C.is also the nations traffic congestion capital. The Post article says 3 days per year is lost in that congestion, but that understates the problem. Since being caught in traffic adds to the length of your workday, in terms of practical, psychological, and economic impact, 74 hours stuck in traffic is really more accurately described as 9.25 workdays. That’s 2 weeks of vacation gone right there! And I work at home, so someone else is taking most of my 2 weeks.

The economic cost of those delays in wasted gas and lost wages is $1495 per person per year, according to the Texas Transportation Institute study, and that’s not even counting therapy for traffic-induced stress. Nationwide, TTI says congestion cost America $100 billion last year, a figure that will only get worse: due to increasing population and worsening road conditions, it will go up to $133 billion per year by 2015. And that doesn’t even include the damage to vehicles and other economic damages caused by our deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

That’s money being taking out of taxpayers’ pockets that would be much better spent on road maintenance, traffic improvements, and mass transit, all of which have the significant side benefit of creating sorely needed jobs.

What’s the solution? More transportation infrastructure funding, more investment in mass transit, more encouragement for telecommuting and work-at-home programs, smart development, and finally getting beyond this destructive idea that all government spending and regulation is bad.


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