Skip to main content

New MPC report measures costs of congestion to Chicagoland

Everyone knows traffic in Chicagoland is bad and getting worse, but most people don't realize how much it costs them – and the region – every year. The Metropolitan Planning Council's (MPC) latest report, Moving at the Speed of Congestion , breaks down the cost of traffic jams in metropolitan Chicago to show the effect on people, businesses and counties. The results are staggering:

- Traffic costs the region $7.3 billion a year – nearly twice previous estimates – in lost time, fuel and environmental damages.

- The costs of congestion are threatening Chicagoland's place in the global economy. The freight industry alone loses $1 billion each year – enough to fund the local share of the CREATE program to modernize and improve the region's freight infrastructure.

- For every hour a driver sits in rush-hour traffic in the Chicago area, he or she kisses goodbye $14.76. That's $1,579 a year – enough to cover several months' worth of groceries, fill up the average car's gas tank 25 times, or take a family of four to Disney World!

- As people struggle to afford rising gas prices, they may be surprised to learn lost time costs them nearly 20 times more than wasted fuel.

Most importantly, the report shows traffic is not confined to the city limits, but is a problem across the region. While traffic jams happen most in Chicago, much of that traffic originates elsewhere. In most cases, traffic is actually worse on local arterial roads throughout the region than it is on expressways.

The report was released Tuesday, Aug. 5, at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. The Chicago Public Library co-hosted the event along with The Chicago Reporter , which presented its own analysis showing the Chicago region has more people who spend at least two hours a day in their daily commute than it did in 1990. The Reporter also found that, while congestion is a problem throughout the region, some groups bear a disproportionate share of the burden.

"If nothing is done to solve Chicagoland's traffic dilemma, by 2030 we'll be squandering $11.3 billion a year due to traffic," said MarySue Barrett, MPC president. "Excess congestion has infected the entire region's transportation network, and everyone from Kane to Cook should support and invest in solutions."

To learn more about Chicagoland's traffic dilemma, read Moving at the Speed of Congestion.

Read the media release for links to related content, core news facts, and other information.

| Share
Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619 info@metroplanning.org
Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

Donate »