We all hate traffic. No matter how much you mentally urge the line of bumpers ahead of you to disappear, they remain stubbornly frozen in place. The only people who don't hate traffic jams are economists. Why? There is a direct correlation between increase in traffic on the road at rush hour and an increase in employed labor.
Even though we're driving less, congestion in major metropolitan areas is growing. According to this year's INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Annual Report, after seven years of stodgy recovery following the Great Recession, American roads are back on their way to gridlock. The cities with the worst traffic are also the fastest growing zip codes in the U.S., with above average population and employment growth.
Head through to see which cities have the worst traffic in the U.S.
The nation's capital is known for its gnarly traffic jams and devil-may-care drivers. The 295-295-495-95 highway system is maddening. Parking is a nightmare and red light cameras are peppered throughout the city. The city's street pattern makes for a maze of one-ways and no-left-turns. Is it any wonder that Washingtonians crash every 4.8 years on average and spend 40.5 hours per car per year in traffic?
One of the oldest cities in America, Boston is also the largest city in New England. It's a town which suffers from centuries of haphazard growth. With 7.6 million people living within commuting range, that spells major frustrations for commuters. Bostonians end up spending 38.8 hours per car per year sitting in traffic jams. Due to a healthy growth rate in employment, Boston experienced the largest increase in traffic, according to INRIX. A two percent employment growth rate translated into 22 percent more wait time in traffic over 2013.
Seattle, Wash. is the fastest growing city in the U.S., The Seattle Times
reported. Between 2012 and 2013 Seattle grew 2.8 percent, and hours wasted behind the wheel grew as well. Drivers are spending two more hours sitting in traffic this year over last. With 3.6 million in the metro area already, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is dealing with an influx of drivers. Seattle's main problem is on I-5 southbound. It's an eight-mile stretch of freeway that should take 9 minutes to traverse. Unfortunately, it is often dragged out into a 47 minute march.
The third largest city in California and the fifth largest in the country is also the seventh most congested. When you look at San Jose, it's easy to see why. The interstate system was created before the city boomed. It remains the largest city in the U.S. not serviced by a primary interstate. Large cities in California continue to build more lanes, but it doesn't seem to help alleviate the fundamental problem. Drivers in San Jose can count on whiling away 34.9 hours in traffic per year.
With just under 150,000 people, Bridgeport, Conn. is the smallest town on this list. The city is part of the larger New York City area, however, and has a large suburban population. One of the busiest roadways in the nation is Interstate 95, which connects Bridgeport to New York.
If you can drive here, you can drive almost everywhere. New York drivers spend 54.2 hours a year in gridlock, which has led to low rates of car ownership. More than half of workers commuting to work in the Big Apple use some form of public transportation, but on a tiny island with 10 million people, traffic doesn't take long to get jammed.
New York has the most congested stretch of road in America. The area where the Alexander Hamilton Bridge westbound, Bruckner Expressway southbound, Cross Bronx Expressway westbound and the New England Throughway southbound meet should be a ten minute drive, but can turn into more than sixty minutes during rush hour. This stretch of road was named the worst area for bottlenecks in America by the Federal Highway Administration.
Traffic has increased exponentially in Austin as both employment and population boom. Drivers waste 42.1 hours a year trying to get from A to B, a three hour increase over last year's average.
Travelers waste 56.5 hours a year sitting in traffic in San Francisco. Winding roads, hilly landscape and a large body of water create plenty of natural road blocks for motorists to navigate around. The City by the Bay has also seen an influx of affluent new residents that commute daily down to the San Jose area. While several tech companies like Google and Apple provide San Franciscans with busses to and from Silicon Valley, I-280 and U.S. 101 -- the main arteries running up and down the peninsula -- remain choked with traffic.
What do you get with a growing population on a finite spec of land? Gridlock, baby. Hawaiians spend up to two and a half days, nearly 61 hours, stuck in traffic each year. Hawaii News Now
reported there is only a mile and a half of road per 1,000 people in Honolulu. Despite promises from city planners and politicians over the years to address the problem, drivers in Honolulu have added a staggering 10 hours a year to their time commuting.
Los Angeles is always either number one or close to it on this list year each. Half of the top ten most congested corridors in America can be found within the city limits. Drivers can expect to waste 64.1 hours per year sitting in traffic here. The second-most congested freeway in the nation, a 14 mile stretch of I-10 Eastbound, can turn from a 15 minute drive to an hour-long crawl at almost any time of day.