Is Area Congestion Bad?
A new, first-of-its kind report compiled by AMATS shows that things aren’t that bad even when they’re at their worst in terms of traffic congestion on Greater Akron area roadways. Approved by AMATS in May, the new 2021 Annual Report on Roadway Traffic Congestion in the AMATS Region shows that the area’s roadway network functions at a “tolerable” level of congestion even during peak drive-times.
The report assesses traffic congestion on road segments located on interstates, freeways, interchanges, ramps, arterials, and various intersections within the Greater Akron area of Portage and Summit counties and Chippewa and Milton townships in Wayne County. Out of 7,100 segments analyzed, the report finds that only 23 segments experience severe congestion at various times during the day. Nineteen of the 23 segments experiencing severe congestion are in Summit County while two are in Portage County and two are in Wayne County.
AMATS Transportation Designer Farhad Ahmadzai says that the agency calculated area congestion based on a mix of performance measures that included the average travel speed of vehicles on segments, the average free flow speed of vehicles travelling unhindered on segments, and vehicle hours of delay.
For its analysis, AMATS defined the peak morning drive-time as between 6 and 10 a.m., the mid-day drive time as 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the peak evening drive-time as 3 and 7 p.m. In the agency’s listing of congested segments, the Interstate 271 southbound off-ramp to state Route 8 located in Macedonia experiences the area’s most severe congestion during the peak evening drive-time. The East Bartges Street eastbound lane through the South Main Street Interchange in Akron and the West Avenue eastbound link to Tallmadge Circle in Tallmadge are listed as second and third in the agency’s listing of segments experiencing severe congestion. These segments experience severe congestion during the peak evening drive-time.
The highest listed Portage County segment is Tallmadge Road between Cascades Boulevard to just west of the Interstate 76 Interchange in Brimfield Township. This segment experiences severe congestion during the mid-day drive time. The state Route 14 western leg of the state Route 43 intersection in Streetsboro becomes severely congested during the peak evening drive-time. These segments appear as the seventeenth and eighteenth most severe congested segments in the agency’s listing.
Two Wayne County locations – the state Route 21 northbound and southbound left-turn links to Edwards Road in Chippewa Township – are listed among the area’s most severely congested segments. Interestingly, the northbound portion experiences severe congestion during the peak evening drive-time while the southbound portion of this segment experiences severe congestion during the peak morning drive-time.
By community, the cities of Akron and Tallmadge each have five locations identified as experiencing severe congestion at various times during the day. Other communities with multiple listings are Macedonia with three locations and Hudson with two locations.
AMATS used StreetLight InSight to compile the report. StreetLight InSight is a Cloud-based software analytics platform that tracks vehicle movements. Congestion estimates for segments were calculated over a five-month period spanning March through August 2021.
Ahmadzai says that the report is the first of its kind to be compiled by the agency and will be updated on an annual basis. He notes that congestion is not only an inconvenience to motorists, but also raises safety concerns for commuters on their trips to work, school, and other daily activities. Traffic delays also have negative impacts on air quality, the economy, and the timely delivery of goods and services.
The agency will use this report and its future editions to identify long-term regional congestion trends as part of its oversight of the area’s Congestion Management Process (CMP). The report will help AMATS to identify and plan congestion-improvement projects throughout the region.
“We want to maximize the service life of our existing transportation system through congestion management. Maintaining the existing level of service and reducing severe congestion is one of the main goals of this report and the CMP,” Ahmadzai adds.
To view the report, please click here.