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Twin Cities traffic congestion? Eat your heart out, Portland

An annual assessment of traffic congestion around the country shows traffic is much worse in Portland than here.

In its annual assessment of traffic congestion, the Texas A & M Transportation Institute rated MSP 44th of 100 cities.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, city planners and other urban do-gooders tiresomely and endlessly praise Portland, Ore., for its efficient use of land and transit — to the detriment of our more sprawlicious metropolis. In hopes of boosting local confidence, I itemized several rankings that put the City of Lakes and America’s Most Livable City (that’s us) ahead of the City of Roses.

Well, here’s another arrow in our quiver. In its annual assessment of traffic congestion — a very rigorous one — the Texas A & M Transportation Institute rated MSP 44th of 100 cities, while Portland came in 17th. In other words, traffic is much worse there than here.

In case you’re curious, Washington, D.C. is the most congested city in the land. (Apparently, there’s gridlock on the highways as well as in Congress.) Bakersfield, Calif., is the city with the loosest traffic. You can see a sampling I plucked out in the table below, which lists annual amounts.

Just so you know, TTI translates to Travel Time Index. It compares the lengths of time it takes a driver to get somewhere during peak travel hours to times when traffic is flowing freely. So if the drive to the airport takes 20 minutes at 5 a.m. on Sunday and the TTI equals 1.3, then the ride will take 26 minutes during rush hour.

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The Planning Time Index or PTI represents the amount of time that should be planned for a trip if you want to be late only one day a month. So if your office is 20 minutes away from your house and the PTI is 2.5, plan on spending 50 minutes traveling there. (No wonder I was always late when I lived in New York.)

Anyway, the average TTI for the nation is 1.18; the average PTI is 3.09. If you are into data, there’s a swamp to dive into, going back to 1982. One plus, sort of: Our nation’s congestion hasn’t grown worse in recent years, but that trend is probably due to the ongoing recession and the decline in business activity. Better we should be congested.

CityRankExcess Gallons Used per MotoristCost of DelayLbs of CO2 per vehicleLbs Total CO2 UsageTTIPTI
Wash., D.C.167$1,3986311,703K1.325.72
New York4281,2815575,146K1.334.44
Twin Cities4412695249444K1.213.14

Source: Texas A & M Transportation Institute