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D.C. area traffic congestion worst in U.S.

Tuesday - 9/27/2011, 1:50pm  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Not only is it possible, it's official: Traffic in the D.C. region is getting worse.

If you are looking for someone to blame, try the economy.

The 2011 Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility Report has been released.

The report names the D.C. region as having the worst rush hour congestion in the country - with every commuter wasting about 74 hours stuck in traffic. That's up four hours from last year, when the Institute said the region's drivers wasted 70 hours a year stuck in traffic, which tied the area with with Chicago for the worst in the country.

Tim Lomax, research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute says the reason why is simple: as the economy rolls along, more people are commuting in the region.

"Regions with better local economies have seen their congestion get worse or stay the same," says Lomax.

Lomax says the region should "try everything" it can in order to combat the growing congestion.

"It probably isn't going to be possible to put another freeway through the middle of downtown D.C., but if your suburbs are going to grow by another million people, you will probably need to add some capacity out there," he says.

Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and New York round out the top five worst rush hour commutes in the U.S.

The report also says the area's congestion wastes 37 gallons of gas per driver. When combined with time lost due to sitting in traffic, the congestion costs each commuter around $1,500 a year.

Lomax says our region probably won't garner much sympathy.

"There are a lot of places that would welcome more traffic congestion because it would mean more jobs," he says.

The 2011 Urban Mobility Report is the second prepared in partnership with INRIX, a leading private sector provider of travel time information for travelers and shippers.

2011 Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility Report

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)