Ten Cities With the Worst Traffic

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10. Boston
> Congestion score: 14.7
> Population density: 1,305.4 people per sq. mile (9th highest)
> Average commute time: 29.2 minutes (tied for 10th highest)
> Pct. driving to work: 76.6% (8th lowest)

It took commuters in Boston 14.7% longer to travel during peak hours than it would without traffic in 2012. This is more than double the nationwide congestion level. Among the major reasons for this was Interstate 93, three stretches of which ranked among the 50 most congested corridors in the nation. The interstate was rerouted from an elevated highway running above Boston to a tunnel running below the city as part of the area’s famous “Big Dig” project, which ran billions of dollars over budget and took decades to finish.

Also Read: America’s Most Polluted Cities

9. Washington D.C.
> Congestion score: 16.4
> Population density: 997.1 people per sq. mile (18th highest)
> Average commute time: 34.5 minutes (2nd highest)
> Pct. driving to work: 76% (6th lowest)

Just 76% of all Washington D.C. area commuters used a private vehicle to get to work in 2011, less than nearly all other large metropolitan areas. And as many as 14.8% of commuters used public transit — among the most in the nation. But with the Washington area among the nation’s most congested, the average commute time to work was 34.5 minutes — behind only the New York metro area. Traffic congestion did improve in 2012, when the city received a congestion score of 16.4 — down from 19.9 the year before. The lower score indicates that drivers are traveling closer to “free flow” speed during peak hours, even as large stretches of Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway ranked among the worst congestion corridors in the nation.

8. Seattle
> Congestion score: 17.6 (tied for 7th highest)
> Population density: 585.8 people per sq. mile (35th highest)
> Average commute time: 27.6 minutes (22nd highest)
> Pct. driving to work: 81% (20th lowest)

Congestion in Seattle actually improved in 2012, with the INRIX index score declining from 19.6 in 2011 to 17.6 last year. Despite this improvement, Seattle remains one of the most congested metro areas in the nation and had some of the most congested individual roads in the country in 2012. Among these was a nine-mile, southbound stretch of Interstate 5, which ranked as the 11th most congested corridor in the nation in 2012. Last March, The Seattle Times noted that new tolls on the nearby Highway 520 had led to increased congestion on Interstate 5.

7. San Jose
> Congestion score: 17.6 (tied for 7th highest)
> Population density: 685.7 people per sq. mile (26th highest)
> Average commute time: 24.8 minutes (65th highest)
> Pct. driving to work: 86.7% (61st lowest)

Only one stretch of road in the San Jose area ranked in the top 100 most congested in the nation in 2012. Despite this, overall congestion in the area was among the nation’s worst last year, receiving an INRIX index a score of 17.6. Additionally, the San Jose area’s score actually worsened in 2012 compared to 2011, even as the nationwide congestion score improved from 8.4 to 6.6. San Jose residents were roughly as likely as most Americans to drive to work, according to Census figures.

6. Bridgeport
> Congestion score: 19.1
> Population density: 1,467.2 people per sq. mile (6th highest)
> Average commute time: 28.3 minutes (18th highest)
> Pct. driving to work: 82.2% (29th lowest)

The worst traffic in the Bridgeport, Conn., metropolitan area — which serves for many of the state’s commuters as a gateway to the New York metro area — was on a 22.2 mile stretch of Interstate 95 during the evening rush hour. Without traffic, it would take a driver 21 minutes to complete the stretch. During the week’s evening rush hour, it would take 44 minutes to complete that drive. The Bridgeport metro area had one of the highest population densities in the nation when measured by the 2010 Census.