Why Won’t This Traffic Move?


Trying to get out of town to begin a weekend away? Making a few extra stops to take care of some errands to prepare for Saturday and Sunday at home? Either way, it’s not just perception that those Friday afternoon commutes are a little more difficult than normal.

A new study examines, by metro area, just how tougher it is to get where you want to go after work on Friday compared to the rest of the week. A few of the details from Governing, as reported by traffic research firm Inrix.

The Los Angeles metro area, notorious for its backups, recorded the longest Friday afternoon delays of the 100 areas measured. Average Friday commutes for the region were 44 percent longer than without any congestion, compared to about 34 percent more during peak hours Monday through Thursday. That’s enough to add about 13 minutes to a trip taking 30 minutes without traffic.

Similarly, San Francisco motorists sat in traffic an average of 35 percent longer on Friday afternoons, extending a 30-minute trip by more than 10 minutes.

Morning commutes aren’t as bad because motorists usually head straight to work without making stops on the way.

Areas with many workers living far outside a city can experience significant congestion when all flee the office early. The study cited Bridgeport, Conn., which recorded the nation’s fifth-longest Friday afternoon delays, as an example.

The Washington, D.C., area’s Friday morning commutes are less congested than any other weekday, likely explained by the large number of federal employees who work from home that day. But with many traveling for the weekend, the area’s Friday afternoon commute still ranks among the nation’s worst.

For some cities, the added delay on Fridays may be more noticeable than others. Portland, Ore., had the largest percentage difference in delays of any area measured by Inrix, with a 30-minute trip taking 3 minutes, 13 seconds longer on Fridays than average times recorded for Monday through Thursday rush-hour traffic.

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