Tulsa's 'cost of rush hour' a headache for many motorists

Thursday, June 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

How's your drive to work? Is it getting longer? A national study says we are spending hours more behind the wheel getting to and from work, and burning lots more gas doing it.

News on Six reporter Rick Wells explains how the study measures Tulsa's cost of rush hour. The BA is probably Tulsa's biggest bottleneck to a smooth commute, but it's not the only one.

The Texas Transportation Institute says our drive to work is getting longer, hours longer. In 2000, the last year of the survey, the average motorist spend 62 extra hours a year sitting in traffic, that's 2 and 1/2 days, that compares to only 16 hours in 1982.

The national cost in wasted gas and time, they estimate at $68 billion. We stopped by Bartlett Square to talk to Tulsans about their drive to work, and avoiding the BA bottleneck.

Chuck Low lives in Broken Arrow and is thankful for the new Creek Turnpike extension. "Anything to avoid the BA. I like it cause it's safer, I enjoy riding on Riverside, especially in the Fall with the sun coming thru the leaves."

The BA's not the only tough drive. Highway 169 coming in from Owasso is another, Mark Kaase drives over to Highway 75 to get to downtown. "169's a bugger. It's not considered tailgating out there its drafting. I try to avoid that."

The congestion is spreading and will continue, experts tell us, as more and more people move fartherout beyond that bend in the road. Whether for a bigger house, or better schools, or whatever.

The study estimates the cost of our rush hour in Tulsa as 30 gallons of wasted gas and 19 hours of wasted time for each of us each year. We rank in the upper 50's in those categories.

The worst is LA, 204 gallons of wasted fuel and 136 hours extra in the car, per person.

I talked to one lady who's given it all up. The time the extra gas, all of it. She moved to mid-town. Home costs more but she says the extra time at home is worth it. That sort of goes against the direction of the study but maybe she's a trend setter.