OMG! I’ve Driven in the Ten Most Traffic-Jammed Cities!

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

April 29, 2014
When I read the CAPS’ homepage story about the ten most traffic-jammed cities in the U.S.,
I had an OMG! moment. I’ve driven in all of them!

Traffic entering the Lincoln Tunnel

According to the annual Traffic Scorecard, compiled by Kirkland, Wash.-based INRIX, and ranked in order of the most congested with the numbers of hours lost sitting unproductively in traffic, the cities are: Los Angeles, 64 hours; Honolulu, 60 hours; San Francisco, 56 hours; Austin, 41 hours; New York, 53 hours; Bridgeport, 42 hours; San Jose, 35 hours; Seattle, 37 hours; Boston, 38 hours and Washington, D.C., 40 hours.

When I did a quick mental review of my nightmarish experiences, I wondered if there could be a ten-way tie for the most frustrating. Last Christmas, for example, it took me more than two hours to get from the Lincoln Tunnel’s Manhattan exit to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, a distance of less than two miles that Mapquest estimates should take ten minutes. From the New Jersey end of the tunnel, the elapsed time to my destination was more than four hours – no accidents and no lane closures, just grinding traffic.

Gridlock in Hawaii.

Then, while I was in Honolulu on what should have been a relaxing vacation, I got caught in downpour so heavy that visibility from the driver’s seat was close to zero. In those pre-GPS days, I had no idea where I was or how to get where I was going or, more worrisome, if I would ever get there.

But consistently, my worst experiences have been in Los Angeles. When I visited my mother in her Santa Monica home, my strategy was to leave her house at dawn to do the shopping and run as many errands as possible before noon, then leave the car in the garage for the rest of the day. As for doing something fun like driving to Malibu for lunch or to Dodgers Stadium, no thank you!

According to INRIX, five of the Top 10 worst traffic corridors in the country are in California, and most of those are in Los Angeles. The INRIX report also ominously predicts that, as population increases, highway traffic will worsen and the numbers of autos on the road globally could reach 4 billion by 2050, four times today’s total.

Infamous 405 traffic in Los Angeles.

CAPS promoted a solution to California’s surging population and the related traffic crisis in its Earth Day television ad that ran for a week in overcrowded Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. Watch the ad here.

CAPS’ press release issued in advance of the ad campaign emphasized that nearly 100 percent of California’s 3.4 million population increase between 2000 and 2010 came from immigration and birth to immigrants. Based on statistics collected from the Census Bureau and the California Departments of Health and of Finance, during the same period, 2,580,000 people immigrated to California, and immigrant mothers gave birth to 2,474,300 babies.

Predictably, critics illogically attacked the irrefutable facts taken from state and federal websites and called CAPS anti-immigrant. Hear my responses to those baseless charges on the Sully Show podcast on San Diego’s KOGO.



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