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Seattle traffic
Traffic on southbound SR 99 in Seattle. (Flickr Photo / Marc Biarnes)

Too bad it’s against the law now in Washington state to look at your mobile device while you’re behind the wheel, otherwise you could read, again, about how bad traffic congestion is in Seattle — while sitting in Seattle traffic.

The annual Global Traffic Scorecard from Kirkland, Wash.-based traffic technology and data firm INRIX was released on Monday night, and the Seattle region ranks ninth among cities in the United States for time spent stuck in traffic at 55 hours per year. The city was 10th last year.

Of the 1,360 cities across 38 countries worldwide that INRIX studied, Seattle was 26th.

Traffic congestion study
(INRIX Graphic)

Anyone sitting on I-5 or Mercer Street on a daily basis would rightly curse those numbers, but a look at Los Angeles and that city’s No. 1 ranking (for the sixth straight year) puts things in a bit of perspective. Drivers spend an average of 102 peak hours in congestion in L.A., besting Moscow (91), New York City (91), Sao Paulo, Brazil (86) and San Francisco (79) among the worldwide top five.

Since the rapid growth of Seattle and the unending influx of tech works — especially when it comes to Amazon’s many thousands of workers in the city — is inevitably blamed for traffic woes, it’s worth noting that eight of the 10 most congested cities in the U.S. are on the Amazon’s list of cities in consideration for HQ2. Those cities are: L.A., New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Traffic congestion
(INRIX Graphic)

INRIX says the cost per driver for that time spent sitting mostly still is $1,853 per year in Seattle, which amounts to about $5 billion annually for the total cost to the city. Amazon has said it plans to spend that amount to build HQ2.

Not far from Seattle (unless you’re trying to drive there during rush hour), INRIX also notes that commuters around Everett, Wash., spent more time stuck in traffic than anyone else, with a congestion rate of 28 percent on highways in and out of the city.

But while the I-5 crawl through that city north of Seattle is certainly dreadful, drivers on the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York City are experiencing the worst corridor anywhere for the third year in a row. INRIX says the average driver on that 4.7 mile stretch wastes 118 hours per year in congestion, an increase of 37 percent over last year.

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