Fredericksburg-area commuters won’t be surprised by this, but a stretch of Interstate 95 in Stafford County has been tabbed the worst traffic hotspot in America by a newly released study.
The study was produced by INRIX Roadway Analytics, which operates a “cloud-based” traffic data platform on vehicles across the U.S. and the globe. The study focused on the 25 most congested U.S. cities.
Washington has the sixth worst traffic congestion for metropolitan areas overall, the study found. Los Angeles was the worst, followed by New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami.
But the award for the “worst single traffic hotspot” went to the stretch of southbound I–95 from D.C. to U.S. 17 in Stafford.
Over a two-month period earlier this year, there were 1,394 traffic jams along the southbound stretch of the interstate, according to the study. The jams lasted on average about a half hour and stretched nearly six and a half miles.
The northbound side of I–95 also cracked the worst-of list, with a stretch from Massaponax to State Route 610 in North Stafford coming in as the seventh worst traffic hotspot in the nation.
A stretch on the Interstate 495 Beltway took the ninth spot.
Los Angeles roads dominated the rest of the worst of the worst congestion list.
Traffic jams have a negative impact on more than just the roads, according to the study. The researchers estimated that being stuck in traffic could cost drivers $480 billion over the next decade in lost time, wasted fuel and pollution.
The study also notes the work under construction and planned for the future along I–95.
Hap Connors, the Fredericksburg area representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said the report is by no means surprising and added that the CTB, Virginia Department of Transportation and other transportation leaders are working hard to unlock the gridlock.
Five projects along the interstate in the Fredericksburg area totaling about $850 million are either underway or will be soon. Among those projects are the southbound Rappahannock River crossing and the proposed extension of the express lanes. Those projects will add three new lanes in the median of the interstate from North Stafford to State Route 3 in Fredericksburg.
Connors said those projects will help fix some of the issues, but more needs to be done and alternatives to building more roads need to be on the table.
“Road improvements are not the only answer,” he said.
Transportation leaders are concerned about future funding, according to Connors.
“The future does not look promising,” he said.
Connors has been among local transportation officials pushing for the creation of a regional transportation district as a way to raise money for locally based transportation projects. The idea hasn’t gained much traction, as Spotsylvania and Stafford Boards of Supervisors have not supported the concept.