A recent report from Kirkland-based INRIX reveals Seattle area ranks among 25 most congested cities in the U.S.

INRIX Roadway Analytics, a cloud-based analytics tool, recently was used in a two month study that analyzed the severity and costs of traffic hot spots in the United States. Not only did the report define the United States’ 25 most congested areas — D.C., L.A. and Chicago — but it also calculated the economic costs of 108,000 hot spots in those cities over the next decade by measuring wasted time, lost fuel, and carbon emissions. The ranking of the cities was based on an “Impact Factor,” which considered the duration, length, and frequency of traffic jams in order to estimate the resulting costs of traffic problems.

Bob Pishue, senior economist at INRIX, helps us to understand why the data produced by this study are so helpful. “By identifying traffic hot spots and analyzing their root causes,” he said, “cities can effectively combat congestion and maximize present and future investments.”

While New York had the highest number of traffic hot spots (13,608), L.A. took home the trophy for the highest overall cost thanks to the severity of their many hot spots. In fact, the study predicted that if the traffic doesn’t improve in L.A. in the near future, congestion may cost drivers $91 billion by 2026 — a staggering number that is 42 percent higher than the cost prediction for New York (ranked second) and three times higher than the one for D.C. (ranked third).

Honorable mentions for most congested cities include Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, and Boston. Seattle made it into the 11th slot, with 2,675 hot spots and an expected $15 billion in traffic costs by 2026. Among the top 25 cities included in this report, the economic cost is expected to total $481 billion by 2026; nationwide, this data suggest that traffic hot spots could cost the country $2.2 trillion over the course of the next decade.

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