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Urban Mobility Report shows Portland-area drivers spending record time, money on commute

Drivers are spending more time and more money sitting in traffic, according to one new study. So much money, you could buy a flight to Europe.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute published their annual Urban Mobility Report this week. They found Portland-area drivers spend an average of 66 hours per year in traffic. That’s the 14th highest in the nation. In 2008, it was 46 hours per year.

Researchers found Portland commuters are wasting an average of 31 gallons of gas every year. Total, they say congestion costs each driver $1,193 per year.

“I think that is underestimating it honestly. I think a lot of people have it worse,” said Vanessa Valentine, who commutes to Clackamas from Vancouver.

“It’s pretty depressing. Certainly, the most frustrating part of my day is getting off work and dealing with that,” said Scott Veazie, who commutes to Portland from Vancouver every day.

“When I worked in downtown Portland, I was spending an average of three-and-a-half to four hours a day in traffic,” said Dulcie Cameron, who also lives in Vancouver.

According to the study, Portland ranks 7th in the amount of gas wasted per person each year. Researchers found the worse congestion happens at 4 p.m. on Fridays.

“It’s no secret that Portland has seen a real increase in congestion the last couple years,” said Don Hamilton, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Researchers say there is no single way to reduce congestion. They say it will keep getting worse.

Hamilton says ODOT is working on several projects to reduce traffic. He says signs that give drivers a real-time look at traffic delays is already helping. ODOT reported a 20 percent drop in number of crashes along Hwy 217 the year after installing one of those signs, according to Hamilton.

ODOT has also widened some freeways with auxiliary lanes, which go between freeway exits and entrances. They are planning to do the same thing on I-5 through the Rose Quarter, but this project is controversial.

“These are good tools for reducing congestion and they reduce the number of fender benders, and sideswipe, and rear-end crashes that we see on the highways, that means fewer delays caused by crashes,” said Hamilton.

Those opposed to the project contend adding the lanes will only invite more cars to use the road and say it won’t help with traffic.

Hamilton said ODOT is also considering tolling along parts of I-5 and I-205. They’re also exploring the possibility of a new bridge over the Columbia River.

Source: KATU News