LONG ISLAND TRAFFIC CONGESTION COSTS DRIVERS $1.9 BILLION AND 93 MILLION HOURS OF DELAY ANNUALLY

AS TRAFFIC LEVELS RECOVER FROM INITIAL IMPACT OF PANDEMIC, DELAYS ON LONG ISLAND ROADWAYS PROJECTED TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY WITHOUT TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS NEEDED TO ENHANCE MOBILITY 

The high level of traffic congestion on Long Island hampers the region’s economic competitiveness and impacts quality of life in the area, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit. The reportKeeping Long Island Mobile: Accomplishments and Challenges in Improving Accessibility on Long Island to Support Quality of Lie and a Strong Economyexamines the mobility and efficiency of the region’s transportation system and identifies improvements needed to enhance access.

Traffic congestion on Long Island results in 93 million hours of delay to occupants of private vehicles and large commercial trucks and costs drivers $1.9 billion annually in the form of lost time and 41.5 million gallons of additional fuel. TRIP estimates the average Long Island commuter annually spends an additional 81 hours annually stuck in traffic due to congestion and loses $1,684 in the value of wasted time and fuel. Daily rush hour vehicle hours of delay on Long Island are projected to increase by 57 percent by 2045. 

According to TRIP’s report, by 2045, Long Island’s population is projected to increase 14 percent and daily vehicle travel during rush hour on Long Island is anticipated to increase 13 percent. Long Island commuters overwhelmingly use private vehicles for commuting, with 74 percent indicating they drove alone as their means of transportation to work and eight percent indicating they used carpools. Most New York metro trips that originate in Nassau or Suffolk County terminate at destinations on Long Island, with 73 remaining in the same county and 24 percent traveling to other locations on Long Island (including Queens and Brooklyn). 

The chart below lists the most congested portions of Long Island roadways, based on a 2017 report from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.  

“No Long Islander would be surprised to hear that the traffic we deal with every single day is bad for our quality of life and worse for our region’s economic vitality, yet the staggering statistics in the TRIP report are a real wake-up call that we need to make big investments in improving our infrastructure, and we need to find innovative solutions to the problems we’ve ignored for far too long,” said New York State Senator Anna M. Kaplan, member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Additionally, as we look to jumpstart our economy and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our community, there is no better economic driver than big, sustained investments in infrastructure improvements. The time to act is now and the situation is critical, so I am urging our federal representatives to continue fighting for Long Island to get the resources we need and deserve, and I urge the federal administration to step up and do the right thing.” 

In addition to personal mobility, the reliable movement of freight on Long Island is critical to the health and efficiency of the region’s economy. Mounting traffic congestion on Long Island resulted in three million hours of delay to large commercial trucks (a subset of the overall 93 million hours of annual congestion-related delays) and an annual economic cost of $162 million (a subset of the overall $1.9 billion cost). 

“A safe and efficient transportation system helps spur economic growth and thus it is critical that we continue to invest in projects to reduce and manage congestion in our region,” said Kevin S. Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. 

Reducing and managing traffic congestion on Long Island will require that the region proceed with projects, improvements or programs to increase the capacity or efficiency of the region’s transportation system or reduce peak-hour demand on the system.  These projects, improvements or programs include expanding the capacity of the system, improving efficiency and managing demand on the system.  

“A safe and well-maintained transportation system can strengthen America’s economy, enhance personal mobility and facilitate more efficient movement of goods, but the future of this network could be in jeopardy without increased federal investment,” said Robert Sinclair, Jr., AAA Northeast manager of media relations. “The need for investment in transportation across the nation remains urgent. Long Island and all states benefit from a modern, accessible transportation system. AAA urges Congress and the current administration to prioritize transportation investments to ensure safe, efficient and reliable mobility across the United States.”

The TRIP report includes a list of the most needed projects, improvements or programs to improve mobility on Long Island, provided via a TRIP survey of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. These needed mobility projects include improvements to critical interchanges and intersections including Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway and Old Country Road, Wantagh Parkway and OId Country Road and Stewart Avenue and Clinton Road; the extension of the region’s trail system; and, expanded rail and bus rapid transit facilities.

“The importance of a reliable transportation system has been reinforced on Long Island during the COVID-19 pandemic, which placed increased importance on the ability of a region’s transportation network to support a reliable supply chain and safely move people,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “In order to restore and sustain Long Island’s economy, maintain personal and commercial mobility, and improve quality of life, adequate transportation investment must remain a priority.” 

Keeping Long Island Mobile:
Accomplishments and Challenges in Improving Accessibility on Long Island to Support Quality of Life and a Strong Economy

Executive Summary

Accessibility is a critical factor in a region’s quality of life and economic competitiveness. The ability of residents, visitors and businesses to use multiple transportation modes to access employment, customers, commerce, recreation, education and healthcare in a timely fashion is essential for the continued growth of a region and a state. Long Island’s quality of life and economic development is being hampered by high levels of traffic congestion and reduced accessibility. Long Island stands to benefit from programs and projects aimed at improving accessibility and could realize significant benefits from a proposal for an even more robust program.     

            The necessity of a reliable transportation system has been reinforced on Long Island during the coronavirus pandemic, which placed increased importance on the ability of a region’s transportation network to support a reliable supply chain. 

TRIP’s “Keeping Long Island Mobile” report examines the mobility and efficiency of the region’s transportation system and improvements needed to enhance access in the region. Sources of information for this report include the Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the Texas Transportation Institute and the U.S. Census Bureau.  All data used in the report are the most recent available. 

For the purpose of this report, TRIP’s definition of Long Island includes Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

POPULATION AND TRAVEL TRENDS ON LONG ISLAND

Anticipated population growth will result in additional traffic on Long Island’s heavily traveled roads and highways.  Commuters in the region primarily rely on private vehicles for commuting, and most trips that originate in Nassau or Suffolk county terminate at destinations on Long Island. 

  • Long Island’s current population of 2.8 million is expected to increase 14 percent by 2045, to 3.2 million.
  • Daily vehicle travel during rush hour (6:00-10:00 a.m. and 4:00-8:00 p.m. weekdays) on Long Island is anticipated to increase by approximately 13 percent by 2045, from approximately 70 million vehicle miles of travel (VMT) to approximately 79 million VMT.   
  • The following chart shows Means of Transportation to Work, Nassau and Suffolk Counties from 2012 to 2016.
  • Approximately three-quarters (73 percent) of two-way, New York metro trips that originate in Nassau or Suffolk counties remain within the county from which it originated. Approximately another quarter (24 percent) of the trips are to other locations on Long Island (including Queens and Brooklyn).
  • The following chart shows the share of daily New York metro two-way trips originating in Nassau and Suffolk Counties by destination.

TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON LONG ISLAND

High levels of traffic congestion on Long Island’s major urban roads and highways reduce the reliability and efficiency of travel, impose significant delays on commuters, and hamper the region’s ability to support economic development and quality of life.  Traffic congestion on Long Island is anticipated to increase significantly over the next 25 years unless steps are taken to improve mobility and reduce traffic delays.

  • Estimates of regional traffic congestion delays and costs are based on analysis from the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). TTI, based at Texas A&M University, is one of the nation’s leading transportation research organizations and regularly prepares an urban mobility report that quantifies the level and impact of traffic congestion. 
  • Traffic congestion on Long Island resulted in 93 million person hours of delay annually to occupants of private vehicles and large commercial trucks.
  • Based on TTI’s delay calculations, TRIP estimates that the annual cost of traffic congestion on Long Island is $1.9 billion. This includes the value of motorists’ lost time and the 41.5 million gallons of additional fuel wasted as a result of traffic congestion.
  • TRIP estimates the average Long Island commuter spends an additional 81 hours annually stuck in traffic due to congestion.  The average annual cost of traffic congestion to a Long Island commuter is $1,684 in the value of wasted time and fuel.
  • Because many of the region’s major routes already experience significant traffic congestion during peak periods, it is expected that traffic delays on Long Island will increase at a rate faster than the growth of peak hour travel.
  • Daily vehicle hours of delay during Long Island rush hour are expected to increase by 57 percent by 2045, from approximately 650,000 hours to approximately 1 million hours.

LONG ISLAND’S MOST CONGESTED ROADWAYS

In its 2017 congestion report, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) provided information on traffic congestion levels on individual corridors in the region.  Based on an analysis of the NYMTC report, TRIP has ranked the 10 most congested sections of Long Island roadways. Traffic congestion on these routes significantly reduces the reliability of travel times in these corridors.

  • The following chart shows the 10 most congested portions of Long Island roadways.

FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION ON LONG ISLAND

The reliable movement of freight on Long Island is critical to the health and efficiency of the region’s economy. Traffic congestion erodes the productivity of Long Island’s economy, which reduces the reliability of goods movement to and from destinations within the region and outside of Long Island. 

  • Based on TTI analysis, TRIP estimates that in 2018, traffic congestion on Long Island resulted in 3 million hours of delay to large commercial trucks. (This figure is a subset of the overall 93 million hours of annual delay as a result of traffic congestion on Long Island.) 
  • The annual economic cost of commercial truck delays on Long Island caused by traffic congestion is $162 million, which includes the cost of delayed deliveries and wasted fuel. (This total is a subset of the overall $1.9 billion annual cost of traffic congestion on Long Island.)
  • Evolving business and retail models that rely on leaner supply chains, advances in warehouse and supply chain automation, the significant growth in e-commerce, increasing international trade, and the growing logistic networks being developed by Amazon and other large retailers, require timely and reliable freight shipments.  
  • Highway accessibility was ranked the number one site selection factor behind the availability of skilled labor and labor costs in a 2020 survey of corporate executives by Area Development Magazine.

IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED TO RELIEVE TRAFFIC CONGESTION ON LONG ISLAND 

Reducing and managing traffic congestion on Long Island will require that the region proceed with projects, improvements or programs to increase the capacity or efficiency of the region’s transportation system, or reduce peak-hour demand on the system.  These projects, improvements or programs include:  

Expanded capacity  

  • Additional general purpose or high-occupancy lanes along existing roadways or highways
  • Additional lanes within an existing highway width
  • Improved intersections and interchanges, either through the addition of turn lanes, grade-separation or other design improvements
  • Additional or improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Expanded or more frequent transit service
  • The addition of park and ride spaces at transit stations

Improved efficiency

  • Improved incident management
  • Improved traffic signalization
  • Ramp metering at highway entrances
  • Improved traveler information
  • Electronic or universal transit fares
  • Improved work zone and special event management

Demand management

  • Increased ridesharing
  • Increased telecommuting

The following list includes information on the most needed projects, improvements or programs to improve mobility on Long Island and are from a TRIP survey of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Conclusion

            As Long Island strives to enhance its economy and quality of life, it will be critical that the region is able to provide a well-maintained, safe and efficient 21st century network of roads, highways, bridges, bicycle and pedestrian facilities that can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society. The importance of a reliable transportation system has been reinforced on Long Island during the coronavirus pandemic, which placed increased importance on the ability of a region’s transportation network to support a reliable supply chain.

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