San Diegans face epic traffic battle

Posted at 10:20 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 01:22:58-04

Driving in San Diego is worse than Los Angeles, at least in one significant way.

“It's just a little nerverecking,” said Denise French.

French says the commute from Rancho San Diego to Kearny Mesa has gotten more congested in the past year.

“I just have to give myself a lot of leeway in the mornings, especially,” said French.

She's hardly alone.

According to the research group Equinox Project at the Center for Sustainable Energy, in 2015 San Diegans spent about 30 hours stuck in traffic, up from about 24 hours the year before.

One reason why? Once we get in our cars, we are driving more miles on the highway.

Last year, San Diegans averaged almost 12 highway miles every day, up a half  mile, the most of any county in the state.

Los Angeles checks in at a meager nine miles.

“It's a big concern,” said Stephen Heverly, who leads the Equinox Project. Heverly says housing affordability is a factor.

“Unfortunately many people aren't able to afford to live in neighborhoods closest to jobs,” said Heverly.

Heverly says an improving economy also means more people are on the roads for things like shopping and working.

“Better employment is a good story, but more time on the roadways means more money spent on gas and affects quality of life," said Heverly.

He points out that on-road traffic is the area’s biggest source of greenhouse emissions.

While San Diegans remain in love with their vehicles, public transit is not so popular.

The percentage of those using it took a slight dip.

Less than three percent now take public transportation - among the lowest numbers in the state.

But Heverly says the outlook is finally getting better, from the rapid bus routes and new trolley lines, to urban bike plans and bike sharing.

“We hope to talk to you in a few years to say they've improved dramatically but it's taken a few years,” said Heverly.

10News has partnered with the Equinox Project to look at quality of life issues in the region and their annual Dashboard project.