Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Identifying Canada’s worst bottlenecks

Canadian motorists and professional truckers spend a collective 11.5 million hours per year stuck in the country’s 20 worst bottlenecks and burn up nearly 6 million gallons of fuel, according to a new study by the Canadian Automobile Association, their version of AAA.

The study analyzed speed and volume data on urban highways and roads to identify the worst bottlenecks, which CAA claims are “the single biggest delay for motorists, outpacing traffic crashes, bad weather and construction delays.” The study’s authors hope it will be used by lawmakers at the federal, provincial and municipal level to target areas for infrastructure investment and environmental policy.

The study defines a bottleneck as a stretch of highway that is “routinely and consistently congested throughout the course of a weekday” as opposed to stretches that are congested only at limited times of the day or the week. The study compared actual average hourly speeds to a baseline speed on each segment for each hour of the day.

Toronto, the nation’s largest city, had 10 bottlenecks in the list of top 20, including five of the 10 worst overall, followed by Montreal with 5, Vancouver with 4 and Quebec City with one.

The report says the nation’s worst highway bottleneck is a stretch of Highway 401 north of Toronto, which costs commuters more than 3 million hours in annual delays. Highway 401, which runs the length of the province, is a core route of the Canadian national highway system. The stretch running through Toronto is considered by some to be the busiest highway in North America. The highway shows up six different times in the list’s Top 20.

Overall, the bottleneck highways cover just 65 kilometers (roughly 40 miles), but they affect every major metropolitan area of the country, according to CAA Vice President for Public Affairs Jeff Walker. The report notes than when compared to U.S. bottlenecks using similar methodology, Toronto and Montreal rank among the worst in North America.

“Traffic congestion is a major source of stress for Canadians. Our study concludes that traffic bottlenecks affect Canadians in every major urban market, increasing commute times by as much as 50 percent,” Walker said in a news release. “Reducing these bottlenecks will increase the quality of life for millions of Canadians, save millions in fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gases, helping contribute to Canada’s climate change commitments.”

While highways dominate the list, municipal expressways in Toronto, and a few city streets in Vancouver also crack the Top 10. Vancouver’s George Massey Tunnel rounded out the Top 20.

Tell us, drivers, did they miss any headache-inducing gridlock areas?