Springs ranks 1st — for bad traffic

September 9, 2004
The latest news about Colorado Springs’ traffic congestion will come as no surprise to the thousands of motorists feeling trapped on the city’s slow-and-go streets. Colorado Springs has the worst traffic congestion of any small city in the nation, according to a study released Tuesday by the Texas Transportation Institute. The city’s drivers spend 23 hours on average each year delayed in traffic. The city is far more congested than similar-size cities such as Spokane, Wash., where the average motorist waits nine hours annually. The clogged streets might seem unbearable to longtime residents who remember a less-crowded city, but some newer residents find nothing to complain about. “When I hear people talk about traffic congestion here, I see it as nothing,” said Tom Keithley. Keithley has lived in larger cities including Houston, where the typical traveler’s time waiting in traffic is more than double the time here, according to the study. Predictably, drivers in the largest cities also have the longest waits in traffic. Los Angeles, for example, weighs in at the No. 1 spot with drivers waiting 93 hours in traffic each year. The wait for drivers in the Denver area is 45 hours. Keithley works at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, near one of Colorado Springs’ most snarled intersections, Constitution Avenue and Murray Boulevard. The area is a big draw for traffic, thanks to three schools and two other large churches nearby. Every day when school is in session, parents try to bypass the crunch by using the Holy Cross parking lot to drop off children to Washington Irving Middle School. “Congestion there at Irving is unbelievable,” said Marcy Serby, who also works at Holy Cross. Serby has lived in Colorado Springs for years and watched open streets turn into bottlenecks. Thousands of residents moved into new homes east of Powers Boulevard, but the streets they use to head west into the city have remained the same, she said. Colorado Springs City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher said the latest traffic study confirms a problem city residents have recognized for a long time. In surveys, city residents consistently cite traffic problems as one of the biggest issues facing Colorado Springs. “Even though that study just came out, it’s not new news to us,” Heimlicher said. “The RTA is perfectly designed to address those issues because that’s what it’s aimed for — the new roads and the expansion of roads.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0187 or pswanson@gazette.com
Urban Area Annual Delay Per Traveler Rank
Small Average 2002 Hours Rank
Colorado Spring, Colo. 23 46
Charleston-North Charleston, S.C. 22 49
Pensacola, Fla.-Ala. 19 53
Beaumont, Texas 15 58
Cape Coral, Fla. 14 63
Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.-N.J. 14 63
Salem, Ore. 14 63
Eugene, Ore. 9 74
Boulder, Colo. 9 74
Spokane, Wash. 9 74
Little Rock, Ark. 9 74
Columbia, S.C. 8 79
Laredo, Texas 7 80
Bakersfield, Calif. 7 80
Corpus Christi, Texas 6 82
Brownsville, Texas 5 84
Anchorage, Alaska 5 84
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