Person driving in their car at sunset.

Good news: Greensboro-High Point drivers have the easiest commutes in the country. Better news: Urban Loop to open Monday.


01/19/2023   |   Triad Business Journal

Too often, we hear about bad situations getting worse. But in Greensboro, a good situation is about to get even better.

The last leg of the Greensboro Urban Loop will open around noon today. At that point, nine years after the project began, I-840 will connect I-73 in on the northwest side of the city with Interstate 85 on the northeast side of the city, and the three interstates will form a 49-mile loop around the city.

The completion of the 10-year project comes as a new study by CoPilot found commuters in the Greensboro-High Point metro area lose the least amount of time sitting in rush-hour traffic than commuters in any of the nation’s largest metros. In Greensboro-High Point, drivers’ daily commutes are extended by an average of 6.2 minutes a day due to rush hour traffic — an extra 26 hours annually.

“It’s a big deal, that’s for sure,” said Patty Easton, a N.C. Department of Transportation construction engineer who has worked on the project since it started in 2013. “We’re hopeful this will relieve congestion on roads like Wendover and Battleground.”

The Winston-Salem metro area, where works continues on the Northern Beltway, is also easy on commuters. Winston-Salem drivers’ daily commutes are extended by an average of 7.9 minutes a day, or 33 hours a year, due to rush-hour traffic. That ranks fourth among the largest U.S. metros, behind Greensboro, Syracuse, New York, and Akron, Ohio.

For what it’s worth, traffic is worse in the afternoon than in the evening in the Triad’s two largest metro areas. Winston drivers spend an extra 5.2 minutes in the car dealing with rush-hour traffic; Greensboro drivers spend an extra 4.1 minutes.

Public transportation is not very popular in either of the metro areas, according to the study. In Greensboro-High Point, 95.2% use private transportation for their commutes; in Winston-Salem, it’s even higher at 97.2%.

Not surprisingly, North Carolina’s other large metros didn’t fare wall. According to the study, Charlotte drivers spend roughly twice as much time in traffic — 14.5 minutes a day and 60.5 hours a year. Raleigh-Durham is slightly better at about 13 minutes a day and 53 hours a year.

But neither is even close to ranking among the worst 25 cities -— Charlotte is 40th worst and Raleigh is 53rd worst.

New York commuters come out as the biggest losers. In the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area, commuters lose almost 32 minutes a day to traffic. That equates to 132 hours, or 5.5 days, a year.

Los Angeles-Anaheim-Long Beach is second worst at 29.6 minutes a day and 123.5 hours a year. Honolulu, Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Baton Rouge, Louisiana round out the lowest five.

In case you were wondering, Atlanta ranked as the 12th worst metro and Washington was the 22nd worst.

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