Congestion on South Florida's Roads 11th-Worst in Nation, New Report Says

Congestion costs drivers here about 47 hours per year, the Urban Mobility Report says

South Florida has the 11th-worst traffic congestion among urban areas in the country, according to a report released Tuesday.

Congestion on the roads of the broad Miami metro area costs drivers an average of 47 hours per year, the annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute said.

Drivers were forced to waste 25 gallons of fuel, and the congestion cost the average commuter $993 when the value of the time delays and the excess fuel consumption are taken into account.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were included in the Miami urban area in the report, which used data from 2011.

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South Florida received a score of 3.60 on the Freeway Planning Time Index, meaning that if you’re making a freeway drive during peak times, you have to allow yourself three and a half times as long to get there, said David Schrank, a co-author of the Urban Mobility Report.

“So that 20-minute trip becomes 70-minute to make sure that you get there on time,” he said.

South Florida ranked 23rd in that category among 101 urban areas in the country.

“So you guys are doing better than some of the peer cities. But still, as a motorist, having to allow three times as much travel just to make sure you get there can be a little bit frustrating,” Schrank said.

At the same time, drivers build in extra time for their trips “all the time without thinking about it,” he added.

South Florida received a score of 1.25 on the Travel Time Index, meaning that an average drive done during peak periods will take about 25 percent longer than one undertaken in free flow conditions, Schrank said.

Projects are in the works to ease congestion in the region, from I-595 in Broward to the Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836) and Palmetto Expressway (State Road 826) interchange in Miami-Dade.

The 595 construction, which began in 2010, calls for new ramps and widened roads to accommodate the growing traffic demand in Broward. The improvements are due to be completed in 2014, resulting in easier merges and smoother traffic flow.

In Miami-Dade, the Dolphin/Palmetto project is on schedule for a fall 2015 completion. The Florida Department of Transportation says the project will reduce travel time and provide more direct connections and access between the two expressways.

Click here for the full Urban Mobility Report.

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