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Development & Transportation

Report Says Traffic Delays in Pittsburgh Cost Commuters $1 Billion a Year

Haldan Kirsch
90.5 WESA

If you find yourself sitting in traffic on the Liberty Bridge every day you might be losing $56 a week thanks to that congestion. 

The national transportation spending advocacy group TRIP (The Road Information Program) released its report of the most costly congestion in Pittsburgh this week and found that in total, Pittsburghers are losing $1 billion a year thanks to poor road conditions and design. 

“We look at … how much time are you wasting daily if that is your commute and then we put a value on that … around $16 an hour … and then we look at how much fuel are you wasting,” said TRIP Director of Policy and Research Frank Moretti.

For commutes on West Liberty Avenue and the Liberty Bridge that adds up to $2,915 annually, according to the report. A commute on the Parkway West will drain $2,608 a year from your checkbook and a daily trip down Forbes Avenue from Oakland zaps $2,608 annually from a commuter’s budget.

Moretti said the upside of the report is that traffic engineers know how to reduce those costs. 

“Some additional capacity and some additional turn lanes certainly, but really a variety of other improvements (as well) — improved traffic signalization and other improvements — that can be made that make the system work more efficiently,” he said.

Moretti admits that adding lanes in some instances is not possible given the region’s terrain or a roads proximity to large buildings.  However, he argues that even costly upgrades will pay off in the long run by adding the cash lost to long commutes back into the economy and through increased interest in locating businesses in the region.

Other costly delays of note include: $2,455 annually for Rte. 51 drivers, $2,148 for a Parkway East commute and $1,534 for daily trips down Penn Avenue.

In all, TRIP finds commuters in the region burn 21 million extra gallons of gasoline sitting in traffic that could be alleviated through proper infrastructure and mass transit system investments.