Charlotte ranks among cities with bad traffic congestion

Experts point to Charlotte’s popularity and several factors contributing to congestion.
Chances are you have experienced all three of these things driving in Charlotte.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 11:06 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Charlotte region tops a list for some of the worse traffic congestion in the country, and you don’t have to ask too many people about notorious hot spots when it comes to traffic.

Heavy traffic is notorious in areas like:

- I-77 between uptown and I-485.

- I-77 in Huntersville at Gilead Road.

- I-485 near Ballantyne

- And I-85 south entering Gaston County from Charlotte.

For some, it’s no surprise that Charlotte ranks 35th in the nation and 318th in the world for some of the worse traffic congestion according to INRIX 2022 Traffic Scorecard Report.

Aaron Houck, the Director of Regional Policy at UNC Charlotte Urban Institute said, “It’s not surprising to see Charlotte on a list of cities because it’s one of the largest cities in the country.”

Experts point to Charlotte’s popularity and several factors contributing to congestion.

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“I think we’re in some ways seeing the results of supply and demand, meaning people want to live here, there are more people coming here every single day and projections show that’s going to continue,” said Leigh Altman, a Mecklenburg County Commissioner At-Large who sits on the Metropolitan Transit Commission.

Other sources stem from the state not having enough money to invest in roads and the infrastructure being centered around car transportation.

Houck said, “even within your neighborhood you often don’t have the services that you need within walking distance, so you sort of have to deal with traffic.”

Inrix shows drivers in Charlotte lost 25 hours in 2022 because of congestion, contributing over $400 in wasted gas.

So, what are the solutions to ease congestion in Charlotte?

Commissioner Altman said, “that means seriously committing to a plan for mass transit that supports a community of over 1 million people and growing.”

That includes looking at roads, infrastructure upgrades and securing funding for those projects.

“Allowing the city to grow more densely, and have a mix of uses throughout the city so people can get to their jobs and get to shopping, and get to amenities within a close distance to their house,” said Houck.

UNC Charlotte Urban Institute says having more connections provides alternative routes for drivers, and an unpopular option, tolls.

“Congestion pricing is something a lot of cities have adopted, and once they adopt it, never seem to go away from it, and it does seem to work to ease congestion,” said Houck.

Commissioner Altman tells WBTV it will take the nearby cities, towns and counties in the Charlotte area coming together to figure out a solution that works for everyone, and not just one community to ease traffic in our area.