Traffic congestion ensnares Issaquah commuters

September 11, 2012

By Staff

Commuters experienced a mixed bag last year, as traffic congestion snagged motorists along Interstate 90.

The state Department of Transportation’s 2012 Congestion Report notes a 3 percent increase in traffic between 2010 and last year, as the economy strengthened and more motorists hit the road.

By the numbers

The state Department of Transportation recently released the 2012 Annual Congestion Report and information about commuting habits.

  • 50 — fewer miles each Washingtonian drove in 2011 than in 2009
  • 88 — fewer miles each Washingtonian drove in 2011 than in 2010
  • $780 million — cost to drivers and businesses of traffic delays in 2011
  • $674 million — cost to drivers and businesses of traffic delays in 2009
  • 44,492 — incidents cleared by the Department of Transportation’s Incident Response program

Source: state Department of Transportation

On the Web

Read the complete 2012 Annual Congestion Report at the state Department of Transportation website, www.wsdot.wa.gov/Accountability/Congestion/2012.htm.

The agency defines duration of congestion on a trip as the period of time the average speed drops below 45 mph. The 45 mph threshold is only used to calculate the duration of congested periods.

The results in the most recent report — comparing duration of congestion between 2008 and 2010 — did not show a consistent trend. The mixed results continued in a comparison of 2009 and 2011 data.

The morning commute from Issaquah to Seattle via I-90 did not experience a period of congested conditions in 2009. However, motorists experienced about 15 minutes of congestion on the commute last year, according to the report.

The evening commute from Seattle to Issaquah via I-90 experienced congestion for 35 minutes last year, compared to zero minutes in 2009.

The route uses eastbound I-90 on Mercer Island — a stretch impacted by a high-occupancy vehicle lane construction project during 2010-11.

The morning commute from Seattle to Issaquah did not have measurable congestion last year. The route did not experience a period of congestion in 2009, either.

State data for the past five years shows 2009 experienced the least congestion, and since then, congestion increased as the economy slowly improved and more people returned to work. Congestion in 2011 still came in below pre-recession levels.

The annual report analyzed 52 Central Puget Sound and two Spokane-area commute routes.

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