The Texas A&M Transportation Institute released its annual list of the most congested highways in the state this week. You can probably guess where they are already if you’ve ever driven in Houston, DFW, or Austin: The top of the list is stacked heavily in favor of those metro areas, all of which have long traditions of being absolutely miserable to drive in. In fact, Houston fares the worst, with a full half of the top twenty being in Harris County.
The top spot, of course, goes to the the stretch of 610 in Houston between I-10 and 59, which is a 3.1 mile stretch that sees motorists waste an astonishing 1.18 million hours every year stuck in traffic. Granted, that’s spread out among a whole lot of motorists, but that’s a big number! If everyone who found themselves stuck on 610 contributed to a big group project with that time instead, they could put 135 years worth of labor into whatever it is they were building.
That’s a weird, kind of abstract way of thinking about it, but the statistics offered by the TTI report encourage that sort of thinking. At the very least, it’s an objective metric to determine just how bad the congestion is when ranking a staggering 1,782 stretches of highway. It also puts in perspective the difference between 610 and the second-place finisher—last year’s top dog for congestion, the stretch of I-35 in Austin between 290 and Ben White Boulevard. That 8-mile strip of highway is good for a mere 950,000 hours of time wasted, or barely over a century. More important than those amusing statistics when it comes to I-35, though, is the fact that it takes the top spot on the amount of time wasted by trucks.
Time wasted on I-35 by trucks, which are usually passing through on the busy corridor and not necessarily making stops along that 8-mile stretch, is notable because of the highway strip that ranks dead last on the TTI rankings: Down all the way at #1,782 is the stretch of SH-130 between US-183 and State Highway 21. That’s the toll road that bypasses Austin entirely off of I-35, where zero hours are wasted by motorists or truckers seeking to get through Austin without stopping. In other words, the busiest road in Texas for trucks has a bypass that allows congestion-free travel at 85 miles an hour between Georgetown and a strip of I-10 near Seguin—but no one seems to be using it.
That sort of irony is notable in examing the list, but it’s not the only thing worth grimacing over. Out in North Texas, the stretch of US-75 between 635 and Woodall Rodgers takes the #4 slot—at 9.1 miles, the longest segment of highway in the top twenty—and the deadly stretch of the Stemmons Freeway through downtown Dallas gets #5. Fort Worth makes its first appearance on the list at #8, along I-35W between I-30 and SH-183, and much of the top 40 is a trading of blows between DFW and Houston, with brief appearances by parts of Austin (the stretch of Mopac from 183 to 360, or most of Mopac, at #25), El Paso (I-10, between Hawkins and Lee Trevino, at #33), and San Antonio (I-35, inside the 410 loop, at #40).
Click through to see the full ranking of 1,782 metro areas—with bonus unranked regions!—or to look at the list helpfully broken down by the area in which you live, so you can shake your head and say, “Yeah, I knew that!” while your blood pressure rises.