2020 Traffic Dropped to Lowest Level Nationwide in Urban Areas Since 1991

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WPCNR TRAFFICA. Special to WPCNR from Texas & M Transportation Institute. June 23, 2021:


COVID-19 cut traffic delay to 1991 levels, but not for very long, TTI study shows

America’s worst public health crisis in a century flattened roadway congestion to levels not seen in 30 years. But the respite was short-lived, according to the 2021 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Study results will be posted online at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, June 29, at https://mobility.tamu.edu/umr/.

Last published in 2019, the research provides detailed traffic conditions for 494 urban areas across all states and Puerto Rico. The study was funded by the Texas Department of Transportation and the National Institute for Congestion Reduction.

As noted by this year’s UMR, Americans experienced four distinct traffic years in one during 2020:

  • January and February, when things looked a lot like the year before.
  • March through May, when the shutdown produced roadway congestion levels not experienced since the first George Bush was President and postage stamps cost a quarter.
  • June through August, when the rush hours began to reappear, reminding us of what traffic was like at about the turn of the century.
  • By September, delay conditions were creeping back toward normal (even if most everything else wasn’t).

As America emerges from the pandemic, 2021 promises to be another traffic year like so many others — worse than most of those that came before.

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