SPENDING TOO much time in traffic

Tuesday, May 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A new study says the average American spends 36 hours a year sitting in traffic. But, are Tulsans average? KOTV's Sean Mossman went to one of Tulsa's busiest intersections to find the answer.

Tulsans spend slightly less time in traffic than the national average, but try telling that to the folks who'll be passing by the light at 51st and Harvard. Judy Murphy spends some part of nearly every day stopped at the light at 51st and Harvard. "Well there are some others that are this bad, but this one is consistently slow." That corner is one of the heaviest traffic areas in Tulsa. But, there are commuters that would argue there are more frustrating intersections. Like the narrow strip of road at 71st and Garnett. The area around the stoplight could be Tulsa's poster child for urban sprawl.

The onslaught of new business means more traffic and the city is trying to react by widening the road. Another commuter Nancy Schaefer says "Traffic in general is pretty bad right now with all this road construction, but it has to be done. So we have to do it. But, I'm really looking forward to this half-mile strip being straightened out." A new study out of Texas A&M says Americans spend an average of 36 hours, a full day and a half, per year, in traffic.

Tulsa was not part of the study, but Tim Armer has taken a keen interest in it. As city traffic planning manager, it's his job. He says he's applied Tulsa statistics to the national study and local commuters are nearly average. "The commute time for two ways is about 42 minutes. That's generally lower than comparable cities like Little Rock, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City. So, that 36 hours that you're talking about, I would say we're lower than that." That's right, Tulsa commuters get to and from work faster than all metro neighbors except for Wichita. A full minute faster than drivers in Oklahoma City and ten minutes faster than commuters in Dallas.