As if back-ups around Mercer Street aren’t bad enough, new data shows that traffic congestion grew on highways throughout the state last year.
Washington drivers were stuck in highway traffic jams 16 percent more in 2011 than in 2009, according to the Washington Department of Transportation’s 2012 Congestion Report, which includes analysis of 52 Puget Sound and two Spokane-area commute routes. WSDOT estimates traffic delays cost drivers about $780 million.
That isn’t such a bad thing, though, according to WSDOT. It attributed some of the increase to more people returning to work as the economy improves.
Most of the increase in the past two years came in 2010, with 2011 seeing a 3 percent increase. Traffic congestion in 2011 was still lower than it was before the 2008 recession.
Ironically, the actual number of miles traveled per vehicle on all public roads in the state has actually gone down the past two years. Washingtonians drove 50 fewer miles in 2011 than in 2009, and 88 fewer miles than in 2010.
Last year, Washington state also saw its lowest number of annual traffic fatalities — 458 — since 1954.