Never Been Hotter: More jobs, more residents, more traffic

The prediction that by the year 2040 more than 3 million additional people will be here. On average DFW drivers are spending about 53 hours a year languishing in line on North Texas roadways.

DALLAS -- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 500,000 jobs have been created in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area in the last five years. Correspondingly, the number of people moving to North Texas has accelerated.

Because of that, you might’ve noticed on your commute that you haven’t been accelerating quite like you used to.

David Schrank is a research engineer with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which has been tracking congestion on this state’s major roads for more than 25 years. Currently, he says, “30 of the top 100 most-congested road segments are in the Metroplex."

The institute’s latest research found that we are now idling at a record rate.

On average, DFW drivers are spending about 53 hours a year languishing in line on North Texas roadways. That’s not how much time drivers are spending in the car -- it’s how much time they are "wasting" in the car, Schrank says.

“The 53 hours is above and beyond the time you could make the trip without the congestion," he explained. "So, yes, that is wasted time.”

But how much of a bother the extra congestion is really does depend where you come from. Specifically, if you’ve come from about 1,400 miles to the west, the daily drive here might seem like a breeze.

“I spend 25 minutes a day each way on the freeway now,” said Rick Turner, who transferred to Toyota's new headquarters here from notoriously-congested Southern California.

To compare, he says this was his commute on the left coast: “It would take me an hour-and-a-half to get to work, and between an hour-and-a-half to two-and-a-half, depending on weather, to get home."

Clearly, traffic is relative. But it has gotten worse here. And may get much worse yet.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) predicts that by the year 2040, more than 3 million additional people will call North Texas home.

“Getting people around the Metroplex is something we’re all going to have to address," said Candace Carlisle, who reports for the Dallas Business Journal. In recent years, she has been breaking one story after another about the sprawling growth.

Even before much of the development projects are actually built, as she has traveled around North Texas for her reporting, she has been noticing major traffic jams in not-so-major cities.

“We’re seeing reverse-commute issues, where it is difficult getting from Dallas to Prosper and Frisco," she said.

A lot of road capacity is being added around North Texas right now. But much more will be needed, says the NCTOG. Their “Mobility 2040” study shows ominous gridlock in the next two dozen years, if comprehensive transportation projects aren’t undertaken.

In fact, the NCTCOG advocates more than 6,000 additional miles of lanes be added to the major thoroughfares here. If that doesn’t happen, they warn we might all be spending a lot more time sitting still in the lanes we do have.

(© 2016 WFAA)


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