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Moving at the Speed of Congestion – The True Costs of Traffic in the Chicago Metropolitan Area August 2008

This report presents findings from a study conducted by HDR Decision Econom­ics, in association with Dr. Alex Anas, for the Metropolitan Planning Council. The main purpose of the study is to analyze and, to the extent possible, quantify the costs resulting from traffic congestion on area roads, including costs in lost time, wasted fuel, and environmental degradation. Although the Urban Mobility Report series prepared at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) has already done much to quantify and publicize these costs for Chicago and many other urban areas, it is merely one perspective on this subject.

A number of metropolitan planning organizations around the country prepare their own estimates of the costs of congestion using richer models and data­bases than the basis for the Urban Mobility Report, resulting in significantly different estimates. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has prepared a Congestion Management System Report, which provides key data inputs to this study (Chicago Area Transportation Study 2006). This report draws on a variety of other sources: interviews with Chicago-area businesses in the freight distribution sector; also special tabulations from the CMAP travel de­mand model; various studies relating to the cost of traffic congestion, including the TTI Urban Mobility Report; and the RELU-TRAN model of land use and trans­portation interaction in the Chicago metropolitan region. Developed by Dr. Anas, the RELU-TRAN model was updated for this study with additional data from the U.S. Census, and CMAP forecasts of economic growth and its long-range plan for highway capacity expansion.

Metropolitan Planning Council is grateful to our funders for the support of this work and their commitment to a better Chicago region:

Chicago Loop Alliance
Chicago Central Area Committee
Parking Industry Labor and Management Council
Union Pacific Foundation
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company
McCormick Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The Chicago Community Trust
Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation