Portland ranks 8th worst city in US for traffic congestion

GPS maker Tom-Tom rates Portland traffic, road conditions and congestion as 8th worst in the country.

Houston freeways

Could you imagine Portland neighborhoods divided by freeways like these in Houston?

OK – we’ve all been stuck in rush hour traffic, and while we sit there, it’s pretty bad, but are we really the 8th worst city in the country, beating out Boston and Chicago? Most Portland residents disagree. If you’ve ever driven in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Washington DC, you’ve experienced traffic that would curl your hair. The drivers in those cities are scary too; sitting on your rear bumper, cutting in and out to gain a few cars lengths, or honking at you incessantly to try to make you pull over. In my experience, at least most Portland drivers are more courteous by comparison.

ODOT claims this ranking is just wrong because it fails to look at important factors such as length of commute. Portland residents have much shorter commutes than those of comparably sized cities, or other cities measured in this ranking.

The most congested road is I-84, followed by 2nd worst I-5 northbound.

Did Portland residents actually choose congestion over more freeways?

aerial view of Portland OR

Aerial view of Portland Oregon

Portland has long been an anti-freeway city. More than 40 years ago, there were many more freeways on the drawing board, such as the Laurelhurst Freeway, the Mount Hood Freeway, and Sellwood Freeway, all of which would have had a huge negative impact on those beautiful old historic neighborhoods. More houses would have been demolished to make way for overhead transit and on and off ramps.The faces of many of our neighborhoods would very likely bear little resemblance to the Portland we know now.

Instead, Portland residents chose to use “freeway dollars” to enhance public transit, create more green areas and make room for bicyclists. The end effect is a much more beautiful city, albeit one with traffic issues on the freeways. We can’t have it both ways. Should we keep Portland beautiful or build more concrete roads? Something to ponder the next time you are sitting in rush hour traffic.

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