Environment & Science

Los Angeles traffic second worst in US — vote for the worst stretch of traffic in LA

Heavy traffic clogs the 101 Freeway as people leave work for the Labor Day holiday in Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2014.
Heavy traffic clogs the 101 Freeway as people leave work for the Labor Day holiday in Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2014.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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A Texas A&M/Inrix report released this week ranked traffic in the Los Angeles area as the second worst in the country behind Washington, D.C.

The study pointed to a stretch of U.S. Route 101 between Woodland Hills and downtown Los Angeles as the single most-gridlocked road in the country. 

Does that ring true to you? Or does the southbound 405 make you want to pull out your hair, or the westbound 10 into Santa Monica? 

We want you to weigh in!

The study, which is published annually, has caused some controversy among researchers who study congestion.

"When you add up a bunch of hours of delay and put them on the cover of a big study, you’re implying this is a problem but it’s also a sign of success," said Herbie Huff, a research associate at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.

She said the very forces that create congestion are also the defining characteristics of desirable cities: strong industries, wealth and a vibrant social scene that attract a large, concentrated population.

"No city wants to have empty roads," she said pointing to places like Detroit.

Huff admits that long commutes definitely take a toll of people's lives, costing time and money. But she said the Texas study doesn't actually measure how long commutes are but how slow they are, because its wait times are extrapolated from data on car speeds.

"It rewards a long commute that travels fast," she said, as opposed to a shorter commute through slower traffic.

That metric makes dense cities like Los Angeles score worse, despite the fact that the high concentration of destinations could make distances between them shorter.

In fact, recent data from the Los Angeles City Planning Department shows Angelenos are actually spending less time in their car on a year to year basis. The average Vehicle Miles Traveled of residents has been on a pretty steady decline since 2002.