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Driven Apart: How Sprawl Is Lengthening Our Commutes

Driven Apart: How Sprawl Is Lengthening Our Commutes

A new report from CEOs for Cities unveils the real reason Americans spend so much time in traffic and offers a dramatic critique of the 25 year old industry standard created by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report (UMR) – often used to justify billions of dollars in expenditures to build new roads and highways.  The surprising analysis by Joseph Cortright, senior policy advisor for CEOs for Cities, says the solution to this problem has much more to do with how we build our cities than how we build our roads.

The report, titled Driven Apart: How sprawl is lengthening our commutes and why misleading mobility measures are making things worse and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation takes a new look at what’s really causing traffic congestion in America. The conclusions are far different than those of the UMR, which has long been used to measure traffic congestion.

“This analysis, once again, shows that many of the assumptions driving big investments of taxpayer dollars that shape our communities are outdated, said CEOs for Cities President and CEO Carol Coletta.  Driven Apart adds to the growing body of evidence that shows compact development that puts many destinations close at hand has unexpected benefits — in this case, less time spent in traffic requiring less spending on highways.  If we heed its findings, we’ll save time and money.”

Driven Apart ranks how long residents in the nation’s largest 51 metropolitan areas spend in peak hour traffic, and in some cases the rankings are almost the opposite of those listed in the 2009 Urban Mobility Report.

For instance, the UMR depicts Chicago as having some of the worst travel delays, when it actually has the shortest time spent in peak hour traffic of any major US metro area. In contrast, Nashville jumped from 31st to first on the list of those with the longest peak travel times.