Core News Facts
* The latest report from the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Moving
at the Speed of Congestion, quantifies the cost
of excess traffic congestion to Chicagoland businesses, counties and residents.
* MPC commissioned HDR Decision Economics to conduct the research behind this
* Researchers found that, due to excess traffic congestion on the entire
region’s transportation network, metropolitan Chicago squanders at least $7.3
billion per year in lost time, fuel, productivity, and environmental damages –
nearly twice the largest previous estimate.
* If nothing is done, that figure is predicted to grow by 55 percent by 2030,
more than twice as fast as the region’s population, to about $11.3 billion per
* The $7.3 billion total regional cost includes the cost of lost time, fuel
and environmental damages, which are the following:
- $6.98 billion in
- $354 million in wasted fuel (Estimate is based on 2005 fuel
prices; today’s gas prices drive that figure closer to $680 million.)
million in environmental damages (Researchers say this is a very conservative
* Gridlock also increases labor costs, impeding the creation of 87,000 jobs
throughout the region.
* The regional average cost of wasted time per car commuter is $1,579, while
the annual increase in fuel costs per peak period traveler in 2005 came to $81.
In other words, lost time costs the Chicago-area economy and its drivers nearly
20 times more than wasted fuel.
* The annual cost of wasted time alone per car commuter ranges from $824 in
some of the outlying counties to $3,014 in the city of Chicago .
* Regionally, congestion adds 22 percent to peak period travel times, or
about 66 extra minutes each week for a driver whose commute should take 30
minutes each direction. Within Chicago itself, congestion increases peak period
travel times by about 40 percent, or about 120 minutes extra per week for
someone with a one-hour round-trip commute.
* In terms of where congestion occurs and time is lost, congestion is
greatest in and around Chicago and Cook County, the primary destination for most
of the region’s workers: 41.5 percent of DuPage County residents work in Cook
County, followed by Will (40 percent), Lake (35 percent), McHenry (31.6
percent), and Kane (27.3 percent).
* The majority of the region’s congestion (measured both in vehicle-miles
traveled and vehicle-hours of delay) is worse on arterial roads than on
expressways, except in Chicago .
* Over the last 20 years, 2,000 miles of new lanes have been added to the
region’s highways and arterial roads – a 15 percent increase – yet average
rush-hour commute times have doubled. Meanwhile, federal and state funding for
capital construction have not kept pace with construction costs, which are
rising 10 percent per year.
* The report states the following criteria for solutions to gridlock:
The cost of a solution must not exceed the cost of congestion.
must balance the needs of business, society, and the environment.
Solutions must be regional in scope.
- Solutions must address congestion
on expressways and arterial roads.
Solutions must address wasted time as well as fuel.
Quote Attributable to Paul O’Connor, former head of World Business
“To remain globally competitive, we cannot continue to
waste resources that could be invested in more efficient mass transit, better
schools, increased job creation, and business attraction. By defining the scope
and severity of the cost of gridlock in Chicagoland, this report provides a
mandate for change.”
Quote Attributable to Randy Blankenhorn, Executive Director,
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
"Traffic is synonymous
with the Chicago region, and it knows no boundaries. In most cases it is
actually worse on local arterial roads throughout the region. Excess congestion
has infected the entire region’s transportation network, and everyone from Kane
to Cook should support and invest in solutions.”
Quote Attributable to MarySue Barrett,
President, Metropolitan Planning Council
“Retailers thrive on
bustling streets, and, up to a point, the more people and goods moving through a
neighborhood, city or region, the healthier its economy. But, many of our roads
have reached the tipping point, where the costs of congestion outweigh the
benefits. As a region, we
must start to
identify and invest in smart
Links to Related Content
* A two-minute video of Peter Skosey, MPC vice president of external
relations, discussing the report
* Answers to frequently asked questions about the report
* Related reports
- Texas Transportation Institute 2007 Urban Mobility Report
- Urban Land Institute’s Infrastructure 2008: A Competitive
Advantage, which sets forth an agenda for infrastructure investment in the
- CEOs for Cities Driven to the Brink report, which indicates the rising cost of commuting
has already re-shaped the landscape of real estate value between cities and
Mandy Burrell Booth
Asst. Communications Director
Vice President of External Relations
Metropolitan Planning Council Mission
Founded in 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council
(MPC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders committed
to serving the public interest through development, promotion and implementation
of sound planning policies so all residents have access to opportunity and a
good quality of life, the building blocks of a globally competitive greater