Posted October 03, 2018 07:14:56 Traffic is trending at a rapid clip in Texas as the state struggles with a long-term water crisis and a growing economy, according to a new analysis by a leading traffic-management firm.
The Texas Department of Transportation released its weekly forecast Wednesday and said that as of Oct. 2, traffic in the state was predicted to grow by about 4 percent over the next two months, bringing the number of trips to the capital city to about 7 million from 7.1 million last year.
That is the fastest pace in years.
The average traffic speed was 25.4 mph last year and it is forecast to rise to 26.2 mph by the end of the year, according the Texas Transportation Institute, a nonprofit research group.
It was the fastest traffic increase in more than a decade and will likely lead to more traffic jams, particularly during the holidays, said Brian Tumlin, director of the institute.
The institute projects that Houston and Dallas will be hit hardest by the increase in traffic.
The institute predicts that during the holiday rush, drivers will travel 1.6 miles per hour or more on average, while Austin will see about 4 miles per day, a 1.4 percent increase.
Tumkin said that the increase will likely translate into more crashes in both cities.
“That’s a real possibility,” he said.
The Austin area is already seeing the largest increase in crashes in the country, with more than 400 deaths and 8,500 injuries caused by drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according a recent report by the Texas Tribune.
The Houston area is projected to have more than 4,500 more crashes.
Tumlin said the spike in traffic is an important sign of the state’s recovery from the Great Recession, which was a devastating blow to the Texas economy.
The state has also been hit hard by the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
“There’s still some recovery going on, but it’s slow,” he predicted.
“It’s slow in terms of the recovery in Texas.
It’s slow as in, we’re waiting for it to happen.”
In 2016, the Texas Legislature passed a $2.9 billion transportation package that included new cameras, new lighting, new traffic lights, and new signals to help drivers navigate the city.
But a year later, traffic has been trending at about the same pace as it has in recent years, said Chris Johnson, director for research and analysis for the Texas Association of Governments.
Johnson said the state has had about the best performance in recent memory, but that the situation is not so much improving as the number and pace of crashes has increased.
“We’ve seen an uptick in the number but not in the speed,” he explained.
“The pace of the increase has been higher than the number, but we haven’t seen the speed of the pace of that increase.”
Johnson noted that a lot of these traffic cameras have been installed in the last year, and that the state is not sure how long they will remain in place.
“A lot of the cameras have expired.
They’re not necessarily being used every day,” he added.
Tillerson said he thinks that the pace and speed of traffic in Texas is due to a combination of factors.
“You have a lot more people driving in a lot less time.
You have the weather conditions.
You’ve got the population growth, and then there’s the economy,” he noted.