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How long does it take to get to work? The average may surprise you

(WBTV File)
Published: Oct. 4, 2018 at 10:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For most drivers, traffic is a part of life. Whether you have to sit in it to and from work, have to deal with it as part of your job, or you run into it simply completing daily tasks.

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute times in both North and South Carolina is 24.1 minutes. That is the average time for a one-way trip to work.

In Charlotte and the surrounding areas the average commuter times are higher than the state average, and that has many people worried about the future.

“It really is a game of Russian Roulette. You have to use all the tools that are available,” said Tex Weston, who lives in Huntersville but commutes to Fort Mill for a job. "Depending on the time of day and where you are it can range from o.k. to mass disaster.”

Weston’s commute, including dropping his son off at daycare, is just over an hour. Everyday he has to decide which route to take that will minimize delays.

“It is definitely head banging. You look up sometimes and wonder why? Why do I do this?” said Weston.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is trying to implement different infrastructural changes that will help alleviate some of the traffic. From super streets, round-a-bouts, tolls, diverging diamonds, fly-overs and more. However, NCDOT says these tools are used on a case-by-case basis and sometimes they are implemented to improve safety.

"We are seeing those type of things happen. Those infrastructural changes that are supposed to help alleviate traffic. Those are great, but when you have 50-60 people, estimated, moving to Charlotte on a daily basis, it is nearly impossible to keep up with our infrastructure when we are talking about our roads,” said Tiffany Wright with AAA North Carolina.

In Charlotte, the latest data from the Census Bureau shows the average commute time is just over 25 minutes. Compare that to Raleigh where the average is just over 19 minutes.

“People debate taking a job based on that commute time,” said Wright.

Additional numbers from around the state are below:

  • Charlotte: 25.1 minutes
  • Durham: 22.5 minutes
  • Raleigh: 19.2 minutes
  • Winston-Salem: 20.2 minutes
  • Gaston County: 24.8 minutes
  • Gastonia: 23.4 minutes
  • Huntersville: 26.6 minutes
  • Union County: 29.5 minutes
  • Indian Trial: 30.6 minutes
  • Mecklenburg County: 25.5 minutes
  • Matthews: 27.9 minutes
  • Mint Hill: 28.8 minutes
  • Lincoln County: 29.8 minutes
  • Rowan County: 24.4. minutes
  • Rock Hill: 23.7 minutes
  • York County: 26.4 minutes
  • Lancaster: 28.9 minutes

“It is not just people getting to work late. It is crushing, distribution and manufacturing in this county across the area and driving out jobs," said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett.

Puckett sits on the advisory committee for the I-77 toll lane project, a project that most people think of when talking about Charlotte traffic.

The Department of Transportation is trying to implement things that will help. There are new super streets along Highway 74 in addition to the opening of the Monroe bypass. We are seeing more roundabouts open in places like Mint Hill and Matthews.

It is not just infrastructure changes being made. The city has worked to expand the light rail and has added ride sharing programs like bikes and scooters.

“We hope this will lead to less traffic but only time will tell. I mean, these things are fairly new,” said Wright.

However, for some people, like Weston, those alternative ride sharing programs are not options for him.

“My daily commute has changed my mornings with my family. The time in the evenings and even dinner plans,” said Weston.

As Charlotte continues to become a major city, many hope it will not develop the reputation that other major cities like Atlanta or Los Angeles have.

“Charlotte is not there yet, but unfortunately, it is becoming that way. As we continue to grow and become a bigger and better city, we will be in the category, I fear, because there is no way we can compete with the number of people that are moving here on a daily basis,” said Wright.

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