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Boston ranked fifth most traffic-prone city in nation

Due to rush-hour traffic and the lack of a distinct grid roadway system, Boston was ranked the fifth most traffic delay-prone city in the nation, according to a recent study.

More than 498 populated cities and metro areas across the United States were ranked on various traffic-related and environmental factors, such as the total yearly delay time per driver, travel time index and the total amount of wasted gasoline per driver, according to a Tuesday press release by Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Boston ranked fifth in the yearly delay-per-commuter category, with Boston commuters logging an average of 53 delay hours per year, according to the release.

“We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival,” said Bill Eisele, report co-author, in the release. “As bad as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic jams being consistent from day-to-day.”

Washington D.C. tops the list for longest total delay times followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, according to the release.

The roadway congestion also takes an environmental toll, in the form of wasted fuel.  Commuters wasted an average of 26 gallons of fuel a year, totaling over 66 million gallons from all commuters in 2011, according to 101 Urban Areas, a group that collects and provides urban mobility statistics on its website.

Boston was ranked 11th nationally in total daily commuters by car, logging approximately 1.9 million auto commuters a day, according to the 101 Urban Areas statistics.

Although the number of commuters in Boston has been steadily rising, the travel time index for the Boston metro area has been decreasing ever since its peak in 2006, according to the statistics.

The travel time index is a measure of how much extra time is needed for driving when there is traffic, as opposed to when roads are open, according to the press release.

In 2011, Boston’s travel time index was 1.28, which means that trips by car took on average 1.28 times longer in the average amount of traffic. In 2006 at Boston’s peak, the travel time index was 1.42, according to the statistics.

Some drivers said they are used to dealing with Boston’s traffic congestion.

“Of course [the roads] are more congested, it’s common sense,” said Nick Sabokrooh, a florist in Westwood.

Sabokrooh said he commutes to Boston City Florist everyday, and it takes him about 45 minutes to do so.

“We always have to deal with rush hour because we open at eight in the morning,” he said.

Other drivers said they do not deal with the traffic or congestion on the roadways.

Cassie Sanderson, hostess at Sunset Cantina who drives from Arlington said she drives to work at odd times and does not deal with other drivers.

“Usually I don’t hit any traffic, I usually come in at either 10:30 in the morning or at night, but for some reason there’s usually no traffic,” she said.

Matt McCormick, a worker at Otto’s Pizza who drives from Saugus, said he tries to avoid the major roadways.

“I go through back roads, I don’t use the highways,” he said. “If I did I’d be stuck in traffic for an hour and a half.”

Despite Boston’s extensive public transportation, many commuters have no option but to drive to work.

“Mass transit is just not an option,” said McCormick, who said he has no choice but to make the 40-minute trip by car.

But for short commutes, the traffic seems to be manageable for some drivers.

“It’s pretty easy to get to work,” Sanderson said. “I don’t mind driving. But if I [did] hit traffic I would not be happy.”

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