Time Spent in Traffic Reduced for San Diego Drivers

The total number of annual hours as a result of traffic jams during commuting hours has been reduced by well over half since 2006, the San Diego Association of Governments said in a report released Friday.   

In its State of the Commute report, the organization attributes the improvement in the flow of traffic to the weak economy, improved freeway infrastructure and greater use of public transit.   

SANDAG staff and board members, however, expressed concern over Interstate 5, where the southbound drive is worsening in the afternoon—opposite of the typical commute pattern—and has become very difficult on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

Five years ago, drivers wasted more than 7 million hours cumulatively while stuck on jammed freeways in San Diego County, according to the report. In 2009, the last year for which figures are available, the total was down to 2.8 million hours.   

The greatest improvements were on southbound Interstate 15 in the North County and northbound Interstate 5 from the Sorrento Valley to Cardiff by the Sea, according to the SANDAG report, which was delivered to the SANDAG Board of Directors, made up of representatives from area cities.   

Overall, the only freeway to worsen over the time period was eastbound state Route 78 through San Marcos, which is now the most consistently congested highway in the county.   

The freeway data is compiled from Caltrans traffic center, which county Supervisor Ron Roberts called “obsolete.”   

San Diego is one of three finalists for a federal study in which vehicles will be fitted with sensors that will transmit data on speeds and allow vehicles to communicate with each other, he said.   

The SANDAG report said transit use is up 8 percent since 2006, with the bulk of the increase on Metropolitan Transit System buses and the North County Transit District’s Sprinter rail line.   

The total number of miles traveled by commuters decreased 1.3 percent since 2006, according to the report.   

Also at the Board of Directors meeting, SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos announced a state award of $100 million that will cover most of the construction cost of car pool lanes on the 805 freeway from state Route 94 down through National City and Chula Vista. The money will allow the project to begin next spring, he said. 

City News Service contributed to this report.