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Photo via WSDOT
Photo via WSDOT

If your blood pressure wasn’t already up from this morning’s commute, it’s official: The Washington State Department of Transportation released a report that says we are basically living in state of traffic congestion on a healthy upswing, thanks in good part to our growing tech-based economy.

Photo via WSDOT '2015 Corridor Capacity Report'
Photo via WSDOT ‘2015 Corridor Capacity Report’

“Higher employment rates translate into more drivers on the road, which in turn leads to longer commutes and everything that goes with congestion,” the WSDOT report states.

The state found that the traffic woes “mirrored economic growth,” increasing 4.6 percent from 2012 to 2014. Congestion has been on an “upward trajectory for the past five years, the average statewide congestion in 2014 was 8 percent below the 2007 pre-recession levels.”

Don’t get too happy there: that’s the statewide stats. WSDOT reports that “the central Puget Sound region did not follow this 2014 trend and congestion there was 19% higher than pre-recession levels.” Main corridors I-5, I-405 and I-90 saw the greatest congestion increases.

Photo via WSDOT
Photo via WSDOT ‘2015 Corridor Capacity Report’

The WSDOT also found that the number of miles people are driving during peak traffic periods went up, too, 10.4 percent statewide.

If I-5 feels like it’s mostly come to a standstill, it might be because there are, on average, about 56,331 people between Federal Way and Everett during rush hours in the a.m. and p.m.

Want some other gruesome details? Here you go:

The state estimates that traffic delays cost every resident $116 in 2014, that totals about $808 million statewide.

We’d say that’s pretty conservative if you’re counting the number of hours each driver loses every year. A study by INRIX put us solidly “7th for traffic congestion with 63 hours lost for the year,” we reported in August. “Other tech hubs fared worse, with San Francisco ranking third (78 hours lost) and New York ranking fourth (74 hours lost).”

So, what’s a body to do? Well, we’re already taking public transit in record numbers. The report cites that “transit ridership on urban commute corridors during daily peak periods increased 7.8%, from 104,970 in 2012 to 113,200 in 2014.”

And while the city is working on other transportation alternatives, like light rail, more bike lanes, etc., this is one problem that will need everyone to step to the plate on. So, companies, ready to institute some more flex-time and/or work-at-home options for employees? The roads — and your workers — just might thank you.

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