HOUSTON - A new study confirms Houston roads and highways are among the most congested in the country.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute crunches the numbers every year, to monitor how traffic moves through the country, and how much time and money is wasted while waiting on the road.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston had the third-worst traffic in the nation, behind New York and Boston.
The headline from this latest mobility study looking at 101 different metro areas, is that the pandemic prompted traffic congestion to be reduced, across the country, for the first time ever.
However, within those declines, Houston traffic did not fall as much as other major metro areas; only losing about a third of its pre-pandemic congestion.
"The reason why you might say Houston didn't have as dramatic a drop, as some of its peers, is because Houston is in better shape," offers Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher David Schrank.
He means that, during the pandemic, commerce continued in Houston, through a variety of sources that kept a larger percentage of traffic on the roads, than in other areas. That traffic comes at a cost.
The study finds, in 2020, the average Houston driver spent 49 hours stuck in traffic, at a collective cost of almost $3.8 billion dollars.
By comparison, in 2019, Houstonians spent 76 hours stuck in traffic. As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, those numbers and feelings are likely to grow, as the city grows.
"Texas is growing, and growth means more trips are needed," warns Schrank, "Whether it's me driving to work or my Amazon being delivered to the house, there's just more trips because there's more people."
Researchers say things like road construction, public transportation, and commuter lanes have all helped keep congestion being worse. In the future, the idea of 'working from home' may be the next development that sticks around, to keep traffic under control.