75 worst commutes: How does your city rank?

Traffic 2.jpgEvery year, the average U.S. resident spends 100 hours commuting to and from work. As the Census Bureau notes, that's more than the typical amount of vacation time we get each year (about 2 weeks).

In certain areas, average commutes are much longer -- made worse by congestion and delays that bring traffic to a standstill.

The Daily Beast has a list of the 75 worst driving commutes in the country, based on travel time data. They also go a step further and identify the worst parts of these congested metro areas to find out where commutes get bogged down the most.

The top of the list includes many the usual suspects: Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles (#1), the Capitol Beltway around D.C. (#3), the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York (#6).

It's a testament to the South's recent pattern of explosive urban growth that 27 of the 75, or 36%, of the metro areas on the list are in Southern states -- a reality with important implications for energy and transportation policy.

Here's a list of the Southern cities with the worst commutes and their national rank:

#4 - I-35 IN AUSTIN, TX
Weekly hours of bottleneck congestion: 460
A bit of a surprise that this would lead the South. "It's the most traveled stretch of roadway of Austin and in the state,"says Joe Taylor, traffic reporter for News 8 Austin. "It's quirky. Itwas designed for a small town, and we've grown into a very large city."

Weekly hours of bottleneck congestion: 183

Weekly hours of bottleneck congestion: 189

Weekly hours of bottleneck congestion: 93

Weekly hours of bottleneck congestion: 172

Some other notables on the list:

* #22 - I-75 IN ATLANTA
A pretty low ranking for a city infamous for its traffic growing pains. But as one commenter wrote on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website last November, "I wish they would make a 'Grand Theft Auto: Atlanta' so I could blowup the video game version of Interstate 75. It would be good therapy."

* #27 - I-10 NEW ORLEANS
Despite post-Katrina depopulation, the major Interstate through the city still suffers from 93 weekly hours of congestion with bottlenecks up to 1.27 miles.

Given their rapid growth, it's no surprise that Florida and Texas both had five metro areas on the list. However, North Carolina and Georgia -- which are in the same league in terms of population increases -- only had three areas between them: Atlanta, Charlotte (#35) and Raleigh (#50). Is that because, in NC and GA, population increases have been more concentrated in a few cities, or that in general they've been better able to manage growth?