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Houston drives to top of list of Texas cities for worst traffic congestion

Houston drives to top of list of Texas cities for worst traffic

Houston traffic Galleria area traffic jam
Yep, we're the worst. Local.AllState.com

Honk if you hate Houston traffic! According to a new study, you’re more than justified in laying on the horn to express frustration over Houston’s clogged roads.

The study, released by geolocation technology company TomTom, shows the typical Houston driver wasted 46 hours last year due to traffic congestion. Houston’s traffic congestion rate was 20 percent. This means average travel times in jammed-up traffic were 20 percent longer than they were in uncongested traffic.

While those figures alone highlight the drive-me-up-a-wall status of Houston commutes, what’s worse is that the city ranks first in Texas, 16th in the U.S., and 214th in the world for snarled traffic in 2021. The study says Houston’s traffic congestion went up 4 percent compared with 2020 but went down 4 percent compared with pre-pandemic 2019.

Where’s the worst of the worst traffic in Houston? According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute data published in December, the 610 West Loop was the state’s most congested stretch of roadway in 2020, trading places with I-35 in Austin, which held the top spot in 2019.

On top of that, Houston is home to 10 of the 14 worst trucking bottlenecks in Texas, according to an American Transportation Research Institute ranking released earlier this month. The absolute worst: I-45 at I-69 and U.S. Highway 59. The institute deemed that intersection the third worst trucking bottleneck in the country for 2021.

“Bottlenecks around the state continue to waste time and money, further damaging the already fragile supply chain,” John Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association, says in a news release. “With the newly available federal resources for infrastructure projects, there’s no excuse — these bottlenecks must be addressed. A reliable and stable transportation network is essential to our economy — just like the trucking industry.”

Here’s how other major Texas cities fared in the TomTom study:

  • McAllen ranked second in Texas, 18th in the U.S., and 218th in the world for traffic congestion. Time wasted in traffic last year for a typical driver: 46 hours. Congestion rate: 20 percent. Congestion up 4 percent from 2020 and up 1 percent from 2019.
  • Austin ranked third in Texas, 21st in the U.S., and 221st in the world for traffic congestion. Time wasted in traffic last year for a typical driver: 46 hours. Congestion rate: 20 percent. Congestion up 2 percent from 2020 and down 7 percent from 2019.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth ranked fourth in Texas, 37th in the U.S., and 305th in the world for traffic congestion. Time wasted in traffic last year for a typical driver: 39 hours. Congestion rate: 17 percent. Congestion up 4 percent from 2020 but down 2 percent from 2019.
  • San Antonio ranked fifth in Texas, 41st in the U.S., and 318th in the world for traffic congestion. Time wasted in traffic last year for a typical driver: 36 hours. Congestion rate: 16 percent. Congestion up 3 percent from 2020 and down 3 percent from 2019.
  • El Paso ranked sixth in Texas, 44th in the U.S., and 324th in the world for traffic congestion. Time wasted in traffic last year for a typical driver: 36 hours. Congestion rate: 16 percent. Congestion up 4 percent from 2020 and the same as 2019.

Not surprisingly, the TomTom study awards New York City the title of the worst-congested place in the country. In 2021, the typical New York driver wasted 80 hours in traffic, with a 35 percent congestion rate.

Racking up a congestion rate of 62 percent last year, Istanbul, Turkey, claimed the title of the world’s worst city for traffic. There, motorists wasted 142 hours in traffic in 2021.