Americans spent 5.5 billion hours sitting in traffic in 2011, wasting $121 billion in gas and personal time. Those statistics come from an annual study of national driving patterns released Tuesday by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
The report found Americans are adapting to road congestion by budgeting an hour of time to make a trip that would otherwise take just 20 minutes without a traffic jam.
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TWIN CITIES TRAFFIC UP JUST A BIT
A separate analysis from the Minnesota Department of Transportation found Twin Cities freeway traffic congestion increased slightly between 2011 and 2012, from 21 percent to 21.4 percent overall.
"Our study shows that congestion levels appear to be holding hold own in the metro Area over the past year," said metro district engineer Scott McBride. "We have not seen a significant change in congestion between 2011 and 2012."
MnDOT says the numbers are based on the amount of time freeway speeds drop to 45 mph or less.
Researchers found Minnesotans spend about 61 million hours delayed in traffic in a given year, meaning the average commuter loses $695 in fuel and other costs, like lost wages and production.
The Texas A&M researchers said every city has its own unique challenges and require different, multi-faceted approaches to solving congestion.
MnDOT's strategy for addressing and managing congestion includes operational tools such as overhead electronic message signs, ramp metering and real-time travel information including www.511mn.org and www.mndot.gov.
MnDOT also plans to approach less-expensive road projects with bigger potential benefits, such as widening Interstate 494 through Bloomington and expanding Interstate 35E North in St. Paul.
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TWIN CITIES TRAFFIC
Live Minneapolis-St. Paul traffic map and accident reports can be found online here.