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How would sequestration impact traffic?

Tuesday - 2/26/2013, 4:47pm  ET

Beltway Virginia from Telegraph Road overpass ramp (WTOP/Kristi King)
If federal workers are furloughed, fewer cars will use highways in the D.C. metro area. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON - The gridlock in Congress over finding a way to avoid sequestration could actually mean less gridlock on D.C.-area roads.

If Congress doesn't strike a deal to prevent the mandated budget cuts known as the sequester by Friday, and if federal workers are furloughed, there would be fewer cars on the road.

Any furloughs would start in April, since federal employees must be given 30 days notice.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the furloughs would have a major impact on traffic, since rush hour traffic revolves around the work force, and the area's work force is largely federal.

"The average commute would drop from an average of about 33 minutes each way to about 20," says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend.

Townsend's figures are based on 20 percent furloughs of approximately 300,000 federal workers in the Washington area.

AAA estimates that 71 percent of the area's entire work force commute by cars instead of public transportation.

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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