"Today, our region received news that, unfortunately, was not surprising to anyone who spends too much of their time tied up in congestion: Seattle has the nation's second worst traffic. This dubious distinction should serve as a reminder that our region needs to undertake a comprehensive transportation policy aimed at solving this critical problem.
The study, conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, examined the nation's 68 largest metropolitan areas. It provides a "travel-time index" designed to quantify traffic jams from city to city.
In real world terms, it took citizens in the Puget Sound 81 percent longer to travel over freeways and major arterials during rush hour than it did during periods when traffic was free-flowing. This traffic takes a toll that can be measured in the hours that a commuters must spend traveling back and forth from their families, home and office – those in the Seattle-Everett-area spent 53 hours in delays for the year. And these delays are expensive. For the average commuter in the Puget Sound, the cost of traffic delays – in lost wages and wasted fuel – was an average of $930 in 1999. With gasoline prices on the rise again, those costs are going to be even more burdensome.
That's why I'm working hard to find a solution to these problems. It will take a coordinated effort, involving federal, state and local authorities and I am committed to doing my share to help develop a comprehensive strategy that includes expansion of both public transit and highway programs.
For example, at the federal level, I'm joining other Members of the Washington delegation in support of the FAST Corridor program to improve grade-crossings and port-access projects and greatly enhance passenger and freight mobility in our region.
I am working with local officials to provide federal assistance aimed at fixing the gridlock at both 70th Street/Valley Road and SR 509 which, if not addressed, could undermine economic expansion in the South Sound. Also, I've joined with the state Department of Transportation in an effort to determine which tactics for fighting traffic are most effective so that they can be implemented more broadly.
Finally, I believe that we must develop and deploy new technologies that will allow commuters and truckers use the roads more efficiently. I'm currently supporting programs that enable dispatchers to make vehicle assignments based on real-time location and schedule data thus reducing the number of service hours and vehicles required to meet the demand.
Together, I'm confident we can make progress toward reducing gridlock and improving the quality of life for Puget Sound citizens."