Where are Texas’ most congested roadways?

Texas motorists have plenty to complain about when it comes to traffic, particularly in areas where growth has outpaced infrastructure. Road construction and associated delays appear to be never-ending in many areas of the state, but the area with the most congested roadway can be found in Austin.

“The top spot in Texas’ annual ranking of its most congested roadways again belongs to a familiar contender: Interstate 35 (I-35) in Austin. In moving to number one on the list, I-35 displaces the West Loop (I-610) in Houston, which held that distinction for the previous two years. Houston’s Southwest Freeway (I-69), Dallas’ Woodall Rodgers Freeway (SS-366), and the Eastex Freeway (I-69) in Houston round out the five most gridlocked stretches in the state,” according to a report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

The 52 most congested roads on the list are concentrated in the state’s five most populated TxDOT districts: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Ninety-five of the top 100 are in those same five areas.

The rankings, which were released in December 2020, are based on an analysis performed by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). The numbers illustrate conditions through 2019, before COVID-19-related shutdowns sharply reduced roadway congestion levels in early 2020 and continues to impact congestion in many locations around the state.

The analysis also looks at how the gridlocked roads impact freight traffic, the impact of which is felt through higher shipping to cover higher fuel costs. The study suggests that truck traffic was delayed by a whopping 26,781,934 hours, contributing to 44,552,582 wasted gallons of fuel and an additional $1,546,997,366 in costs.

For Texas motorists, the combined estimated delay time is 528,476,928 hours with 196.44 million gallons of fuel wasted and additional costs of $11.509 million.

“Although the specific reasons for congestion on each roadway vary, TTI notes that the causes are generally consistent, with economic growth being the most common contributor. As measures of employment and commerce rise and fall, so does traffic congestion. Solutions must include a range of strategies, including adding road and transit capacity, rapidly clearing crashes and stalled vehicles, efficiently timing traffic signals, managing work zones and — as we have seen in recent months — telework options,” the report continues.

To combat the traffic congestion, the Texas Department of Transportation is looking for solutions and the Texas Transportation Committee has fast-tracked those fixes for several road sections through the Texas Clear Lanes program, now in its fifth year.

“To date, six Texas Clear Lanes projects have been completed, 19 more are under construction and 18 are in the planning stages,” the statement continues.

Here’s a look at the top 20 most-congested roadways:

  1. IH 35, from US 290N to Ben White Blvd/SH 71 – Austin, Travis County
  2. W Loop Freeway/IH 610 from Katy Freeway/IH 90/US 90 to Southwest Freeway/US 59/IH 69 – Houston, Harris County
  3. Southwest Freeway/IH 69/US 59 from W. Loop Freeway/IH 610 to South Freeway/SH 288 – Houston, Harris County
  4. Woodall Rodgers Freeway/SS 366 from US 75 to N. Beckley Ave. – Dallas, Dallas County
  5. Eastex Freeway/IH 69/US 59 from SH 288 to IH 10 – Houston, Harris County
  6. N. Loop Freeway/IH 610 from North Freeway/IH 45 to Katy Freeway/IH 10/US 90 – Houston, Harris County
  7. Gulf Freeway/IH 45 from IH 10/US 90 to S. Loop E. Freeway/IH 610 – Houston, Harris County
  8. Stemmons Freeway/IH 35E/US 77 from John W. Carpenter/SH 183 to Tom Landry Freeway/IH 30
  9. US 75 from Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway/IH 635 to Woodall Rodgers Freeway/SS 366 – Dallas, Dallas County
  10. IH 10/US 90 from North Freeway/IH 45 to Eastex Freeway/US 59 – Houston, Harris County
  11. Katy Freeway/IH 10/US 90 from W. Loop N. Freeway/IH 610 to North Freeway/IH 45 – Houston, Harris County
  12. IH 35 from Ben White Blvd./SH 71 to Slaughter Lane – Austin, Travis County
  13. South Freeway/SH 288 from Gulf Freeway/IH 45 to S. Loop W. Freeway/IH 610 – Houston, Harris County
  14. Katy Freeway/IH 10/US 90 from N. Eldridge Parkway to Sam Houston Tollway W – Houston, Harris County
  15. North Freeway/IH 56 from Sam Houston Tollway N to N. Loop Freeway/IH 610 – Houston, Harris County
  16. North Freeway/IH 35/US 287 from SH 183 to IH 30 – Fort Worth, Tarrant County
  17. North Freeway/IH 45 from N. Loop Freeway/IH 610 to IH 10/US 90 – Houston, Harris County
  18. Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway/IH 635 from Stemmons Freeway/IH 35E/US 77 to US 75 – Dallas, Dallas County
  19. E.R.L. Thornton Freeway/IH 30/US 67 from Jefferson Viaduct to Buckner Blvd./SL 12 E – Dallas, Dallas County
  20. MoPac Expressway/SL 1 from US 183 to S. Capital of Texas Highway/SL 360 – Austin, Travis County

To see a complete list of all 100 counties and the costs associated with the congested roadways, click here:

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