OLYMPIA – Puget Sound drivers probably won’t be surprised to learn that the most improved commute route in 2010 was the northbound Interstate 405 morning commute between Tukwila and Bellevue. Completion of the I-405 South Bellevue widening project improved commute times by 33 percent and the road handles 20 percent more vehicles.
The commute that earns the distinction of being 2010’s most congested route is the westbound State Route 520 evening commute. Like the benefits from the I-405 widening, improvements made as part of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project will reduce travel time on this commute route.
“Strategic improvements are making a difference on key commute routes, and we need to continue our investments to build a path toward a strong economic recovery,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.
As of Aug. 30, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has completed more than 300 of the 421 projects funded by the 2003 and 2005 gas tax packages. Seventy-six of the projects were congestion-relief projects valued at $2.58 billion.
These are just some of the findings from WSDOT’s 2011 Annual Congestion Report, which includes analysis of travel times, delay and congestion duration for 52 central Puget Sound and two Spokane commutes.
Included in the 2011 report is an analysis of projects completed in 2010, which show measurable benefits to commuters on sections of I-5, I-405, SR 520, US 2, and SR 519, among the most congested routes in Washington. For example, since the December 2010 opening of a new interchange and an additional lane in each direction on I-405 between SR 167 and SR 169, there is no congestion between NE Park Drive and I-5, and the southbound evening travel time improved from 20 minutes to about 15 minutes from Coal Creek Parkway to I-5.
One key finding showed 2009 was the least-congested year in the past five years. Other findings, when comparing 2010 with 2009, include:
· Traffic increased on all Washington highways as drivers traveled more miles and spent more time on the road.
· The average driver traveled 38 more miles (a 0.4 percent increase) and spent 8 percent more time on the road.
· Congestion cost drivers and businesses close to $1.1 billion, an increase of 4 percent, or $46 million.
The full 2011 Annual Congestion Report is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Accountability/Congestion/2011