If you are planning a trip for the July 4 holiday, you may not have to contend with as much traffic as you might expect. INRIX, the leading international provider of traffic information and intelligent driver services, has revealed that U.S. traffic congestion dropped by almost 30% in 2011, mainly due to the slow economic recovery and high fuel prices. This lower volume, combined with the fact that the 4th lands mid-week this year, means fewer cars on the roads during the break.
“Although fuel prices have been dropping steadily, we still have not seen an increase in congestion,” says INRIX.
Cheaper gas isn’t encouraging more people to drive as INRIX revealed further declines in traffic in the first five months of 2012, despite the fact that fuel prices are at their lowest since January.
“The declines in traffic congestion across the U.S. are indicative of stalled economies. Americans are driving less and spending less because of gas prices and a largely jobless recovery,” says Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO.
With the holiday coming on a Wednesday during a traditional vacation week, INRIX predict drivers are likely to stagger their journeys across the week to avoid rush hour back ups.
“We believe holiday traffic will try to avoid the typical commuting hours by travelling between the rush hours, so there will be heavier conditions throughout the day.”
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, the Hamptons and Napa Valley, California are among some of the most popular destinations for holiday travel.
“Travel will be heavier at weekends, with Sunday July 8th the busiest day because of returning traffic.”
According to the INRIX scorecard www.scorecard.inrix.com, a report that analyzes the most congested roads and cities in the U.S., the worst congested corridors are most prominent in Los Angeles and New York. Both cities took 4 slots each in the top 10 worst bottlenecks. The other two are in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
This Independence Day, however, it is the cities that host the most impressive fireworks displays, parades and other free events that stretch over the week and into the weekend that will draw in the crowds. Cities could be more congested than previous years as more people veto longer journeys and stay in their home and nearby cities.
If you’re spending July 4th in New York, the fourth most congested city in the US according to INRIX, Macy’s will have its annual firework display around 9 p.m. on Wednesday over the Hudson River. Popular viewing areas include Twelfth Avenue and the West Side Highway, which are both closed to traffic from 2pm until the early hours of July 5th.
Buses near the fireworks will be rerouted so detours are expected to cause heavier traffic, especially from 5 p.m. as people make their way to viewing areas early.
In Seattle, the seventh most congested city in the U.S., there are festivals and fireworks over the Puget Sound, but the largest firework display is the Family Fourth at Lake Union on Wednesday 4th. Roads leading to the viewpoints are likely to be very congested from as early as 7pm and roads will be closed from 9 p.m. until the end of the fireworks show. One of the worst corridors in Seattle includes the I-5 SB from WA -523/145th Street to Union Street. The southbound I-5 will be restricted during July 4 with closures including the southbound off ramp to Roanoke Street, the on-ramp from Boylston Street and the southbound exit only lane and off ramp to Mercer Street.
In Boston, the annual Harborfest is a multi-day Fourth of July celebration featuring hundreds of events that attract more than 2.5 million visitors to the ninth most congested US city each year, particularly the fireworks displays over the Charles River on July 4.
Road closures on Tuesday 3rd include Storrow Drive westbound from the Lee Pool to Berkeley. The closure will be extended both ways on Wednesday 4 at 7:30 a.m. from Leverett Circle to Kenmore Square, which will send more traffic along the MassPike. Traffic won’t be able to cross between Cambridge and Boston using Longfellow Bridge after 4pm or Massachusetts Avenue Bridge after 6pm. From 11pm, Third Street in Cambridge becomes one way from Main Street to Msgr. O’Brien Highway.
For those not driving, the centralized location means that spectators can set out on foot or travel via the MBTA.
In Chicago, there will be popular annual fests including Naperville’s Ribfest, Arlington Heights’ Frontier Days and Barrington’s 4th of July Festival which stretch over several days. Millennium Park will host music events from Wednesday 4th until the weekend and in the City of Chicago, there will be fireworks at Navy Pier from 9 p.m. Data analysed by INRIX showed that Chicago is the 10th most congested city so holiday revellers should use public transportation, with CTA bus lines 29, 65 and 66 all bound for Navy Pier. For those planning trips after the fireworks, traffic is most congested in Chicago on Thursdays at 4 p.m.
“While free events, parades and fireworks will keep many in their home cities, for those planning to head out during the holidays, check the roads before you leave the house. Listen to the radio, news stations and download free predictive traffic apps such as INRIX Traffic to avoid getting stuck in a jam,” says INRIX.
INRIX® operates the largest global traffic intelligence platform in the world, delivering smart data and analytics to solve transportation issues worldwide. INRIX crowd sources data daily from approximately 100 million vehicles and devices to deliver traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services, across six channels in 30 countries.
With more than 200 customers and partners including Audi AG, ADAC, ANWB, BMW, the BBC, Ford Motor Company, the I-95 Coalition, MapQuest, Microsoft, NAVIGON, Nissan, O2, Tele Atlas, Telmap, TeleNav, Toyota and Vodafone, INRIX’s real-time traffic information and traffic forecasts help drivers save time every day. To experience the traffic technology revolution behind the next generation of transportation, navigation and location-based service applications, visit www.INRIX.com.
Cat Kobylinski, INRIX