New study says San Diego drivers spend about 37 hours each year stuck in traffic

San Diego ranks 37th in congestion in nation

SAN DIEGO - San Diegans spend a lot of time stuck in traffic but it could be worse, according to a just-released study.

Ramon Santellanes lives in downtown San Diego and works part-time delivering bread, but he dreads the traffic.

"Traffic on the highway is bad," he said. "It's maddening."

According to a new national study conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, local drivers spend about 37 hours a year stuck in traffic. That translates into a wasted 20 gallons of gas.

Factoring in traffic numbers and patterns, the study says if San Diegans are planning a 20-minute trip during rush hour they should set aside 58 minutes to make sure they get to their destination.

Sarah Benson works at the research group Equinox Center, which studies traffic in the region.

"After four years of decline, traffic delays are now on the rise," she said.

One factor is an improving job market, which means more commuters.

It turns out those delays are longer elsewhere. San Diego ranks 37th in congestion the country, faring better than many smaller urban areas.

Researchers for the new study point to the ramp meter and traffic sensor system, carpool lanes and highway expansions.

Still, there are busy spots. According to the Caltrans, the three spots with the most traffic are: state Route 163 and Interstate 15, Interstate 5 near Via de La Valle and Interstate 8 at Interstate 805.

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