LOS ANGELES (AP) — Californians are among the top fuel-wasting drivers in the nation, burning up more than 38 million gallons in the most congested roadways last year, according to a report released Tuesday.
The study by the Texas Transportation Institute examined 328 of the most congested stretches of highway in the nation and ranked roadways based on the amount of fuel wasted due to congestion. Seven of the top 10 fuel-wasting stretches were in Los Angeles, accounting for more than 38 million wasted gallons of gasoline and diesel in 2010, researchers found.
Environmentalists say California lawmakers and regulators have taken steps to reduce the state’s notorious congestion, but urban sprawl and an increase in freight being transported through the state have countered the efforts.
“The issue in Los Angeles is you’ve got so much traffic congestion, the things that they’re doing are having an effect, but it’s such a big problem that it’s difficult to fix,” said Tim Lomax, a research engineer for the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. “It’s having a beneficial effect, just not having enough effect.”
The top offender, a 27-mile southbound stretch of U.S. 101, accounted for 485,000 hours of delay-per-mile and more than 6 million wasted gallons of fuel last year.
Among the top 10 fuel-wasting corridors, those in Los Angeles accounted for 72 percent of the wasted gallons, according to the report. Researchers calculated the amount of fuel wasted in congestion by determining the fuel that would be consumed in free-flow traffic, fuel efficiency data, average speeds and travel times.
“We don’t have enough good public transportation,” said Dan Jacobson of the environmental advocacy group Environment California, explaining why California roads are so congested. He advocates for high-speed rail and local bus service.
“In places where we’ve been diligent about improving our public transit, we see ridership goes up and that’s a good thing,” he said.
Roadways in Washington, New York and Chicago also made the list.
The study did have some good news for California drivers. Sort of.
It seems California drivers rarely need to guess how long their daily commutes will be. That’s because traffic is reliably bad. Only one California roadway made the top 10 in a list of “Reliably Unreliable” corridors. That was a six-mile stretch of Interstate 15 in Riverside.
“It’s kind of surprising that the places that are really horribly congested are not necessarily the ones that have horrible reliability problems,” Lomax said. “Suburban corridors seem to be the most unreliable ones. That’s partly because … some days you can make it through that corridor without too much problem.”
Atlanta and New York claimed the top most unreliable traffic spots.
To conduct the study, TTI researchers used traffic volume information from the states with speed data to compute performance measures.
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