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The Northeast Cities With the Most Traffic Congestion

Every city has its share of traffic jams, but not all gridlock is created equal.

If you feel as though your commute is the worst in the world, you may be correct, particularly if you’re from the Northeast.

The average American lost about 97 hours — or just over four days — due to congestion in 2018, according to transportation research firm INRIX in its annual Global Traffic Scorecard.

Boston tops the list, at 164 hours lost. In fact, Boston is the only U.S. city to be included in the top 10 ranking of most congested cities worldwide, placing eighth between Rio de Janeiro and Saint Petersburg, Russia. New York City drivers, in contrast, lost about 133 hours, good for fifth-worst in America.

U.S. Urban Areas With The Most Traffic Congestion in 2018

(hours lost in congestion in parentheses)
1. Boston (164)
2. Washington, D.C. (155)
3. Seattle (138)
4. Chicago (138)
5. New York City (133)
6. Los Angeles (128)
7. Pittsburgh (127)
8. Portland, Ore. (116)
9. San Francisco (116)
10. Philadelphia (112)

But New York City did win the dubious award for the slowest of all American cities, with ‘last mile’ speeds averaging 9 mph – meaning it’s probably quicker to ride a bike than to drive or take a bus.

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The report also looks at the most congested roads in America and (unsurprising to New Yorkers) the Cross Bronx Expressway took the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Drivers wasted a total of 114 hours per year at peak hours on that stretch of road, according to the report.

Boston’s I-93 corridor was the seventh-most congested U.S. road, while New York’s Brooklyn Queens Expressway and Major Deegan Expressway also made it onto the top 10.

The 10 Most Congested U.S. Roads in 2018

(yearly delay, in hours, in parentheses)
1. New York City’s Cross Bronx Expressway (114)
2. Chicago’s I-94/I-90 corridor (102)
3. Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway (93)
4. Los Angeles’ I-10 (74)
5. Pittsburgh’s I-376 (72)
6. Philadelphia’s I-76 (53)
7. Boston’s I-93 (53)
8. New York City’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (51)
9. Los Angeles’ I-5 (50)
10. New York City’s Major Deegan Expressway (49)

But if Boston and New York City drivers are looking for a silver lining in the data, just remember, it can always be worse. You could live in Moscow, the most congested city in the world, where the average driver loses 210 hours stuck in congestion each year.

Do you agree with the data, or is your commute even worse than those listed above? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments
  • John D.

    Put electronic tolls on I-93 and use funds to improve public transportation and watch the statistics change. Why do only drivers in western suburbs pay to use roads?

  • Thomas H.

    I 93 in Boston should be broken into two segments, since most commuters only travel one half (the road goes THROUGH Boston). Both halves are very congested.

  • Carol Y.

    I95 in CT is horrible. Always so congested that live traffic maps consistently are red, all day and evening! I used to live in CT and now happily live in NY. Traffic congestion in and going to NYC is a breeze compared with I95 in CT!

  • Todd W.

    Can we suggest the whole of Long Island — and maybe the Bronx River and Hutchinson River parkways in Westchester?

  • Stephen B.

    So what is AAA, as a representative of drivers, doing to help ameliorate this congestion? Are you lobbying for road improvements?

  • William A.

    Obviously the author has never been on the Van Wyck Expressway north from JFK to Kew Gardens. It takes less time to fly to London.

  • Matthew T.

    Boston just gets worse and worse and worse. Now I don’t go into the city unless I absolutely need to.

  • Richard D.

    WE COULD JUST LIST EVERY HIGHWAY AND PARKWAY IN NYC AND LONG ISLAND. WORSE THAN THAT ARE THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE ON THE THRUWAY AND DON’T ACCELERATE WHEN THEY ARE GOING UPHILL. ALL OF THE CARS SLOW DOWN BECAUSE PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE CRUISE CONTROL. LAST YEAR I WAS DRIVING SOUTH ON THE THRUWAY FROM EXIT 19 AND THE TRAFFIC WAS MOVING SMOOTHLY AT ABOUT 70 MPH. EVERY TIME WE WENT UPHILL IT WOULD SLOW DOWN TO 30 MPH AT THE TOP OF THE HILL AND THEN GO BACK UP WHEN WE STARTED GOING DOWNHILL. I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW MANY PEOPLE DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE ON A HIGHWAY AND EVEN LESS ABOUT CRUISE CONTROL

  • Marie C.

    I spent 20+ years in Los Angeles. The 405 is the absolute worst. Surface streets at rush hour move faster. Now that I’m in MA, everything is a piece of cake…well almost…

  • Marie G.

    WBZ AM radio has a promo that mentions “Boston is an hour from Boston”, followed by a commenter saying “It’s only funny because it is true.” Love the self-deprecating humor!

  • William A.

    How could the Van Wyck Expressway north be omitted? I haven’t been on that highway once in the last thirty-odd years; day or night; winter-spring-summer-fall; sunshine, rain or snow; holiday or mid afternoon; when it is not backed up from JFK to the interchange.

  • Dennis B.

    Yes, everyone is correct in saying that we have become a congested country, as you can tell from their comments.

    Let’s take a look at some very clear facts. Our highways have not been taken care of as promised by the all the administrations since the Eisenhower administration that declared this country open for auto travel. We have spent way too much money at the city, state and federal levels, but have seen minimal results or improvements that match the taxes.

    Many cities don’t have space to improve their streets, without looking up and adding a second level for moving about greater distances. This has also has become true of the Northeast corridor from Boston to Washington DC and the NEW stretch of road that is NOW a real nightmare, DC to Richmond.

    Some will tell you that they are widening that road by adding higher speed TOLL roads to allow those to travel with less traffic. Hmm, remember what I said in the beginning about maintaining the Interstate Highways. We are already paying taxes to the Governments to do this. Now we have to pay them twice to use this toll (tax) feature.

    One possible solution would be to make those that live and travel one or two exits on any given highway find another way by staying on secondary roads, lets say 8 miles or less. That would free up lanes for vehicles traveling greater distances. Also, lets remember, the LEFT lane is the High Speed Travel Lane.

    Another would be to ask those that have a choice of when to travel, to do so at the time of day when the roads are less congested. This may be tough as the roads have become busy almost all day long.

    The last one that comes to mind is the most important.
    We are a society of people that love to text instead of talking directly with one another. First of all, driving without texting is a great idea. Find a way that a cellphone would be locked from texting while driving. This is starting to become a voluntary option on some cellphones. This also shows up in the way we drive today as well. Just about every car on the road has ONE person in it and no one else!

    Can you imagine having only 50 to 60% of the cars on the road that you see today if all of the above were to take place. Road congestion would be limited and we could all move about at more normal travel times.

    My final comment is about the lack of understanding by those in charge of making decisions concerning infrastructure. There is that Interstate Highway that a lot of people drive up and down the East coast, called I-95.

    Imagine the government giving contracts to a group of private companies in every state and major city to build HIGH speed 2nd level roads that would allow those traveling from state to state to travel at realistically higher speeds and get to where they want above the existing roads. Then trucks making deliveries in each state and on short delivery routes would stay on the lower level with the cars going short distances.

    The task would be daunting but the rewards immense. We could all keep our sanity and become a more civil society, again. Just look at the aggression displayed by some drivers and the dismay on the faces of the others. Driving is no longer a pleasure, it has become a video game with “professional race car drivers” that cause additional delays, that don’t include them. It’s the mess they leave behind, like those in charge of the highway system!

    Thanks AAA for posting this.
    I wonder how many agree with what I see.
    I look forward to hearing from those fellow travelers that make the voyage up and down I-95. I see many of you each time I drive that road.

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