New statewide data released Wednesday showed that drivers in Wisconsin are delayed in traffic for several million hours collectively in a year.
The state Department of Transportation called delays for motorists and the subsequent financial cost are "significant." The delays experienced by drivers add up to 7.4 million hours in a year and the associated cost: $226.5 million. The data come from the state DOT's first "Travel Time Reliability and Delay Report."
In the Madison area, Interstate 90 and 39 in both directions was considered reliable, meaning that drivers would not have to factor in added time in order to reach their destinations in a timely manner. Interstate 94 headed to and from Milwaukee was also considered reliable. But the Beltline fared worse: westbound traffic travel times was considered moderately reliable.
Eastbound Beltline traffic got the worst report for Madison freeways, with roads considered unreliable, causing drivers to spend nearly twice as long traveling east as would be expected for that distance.
"It's people's time and the expense of automobiles getting stuck on the Beltline not traveling, not getting to work on time," Madison DOT Traffic Supervisor Dan Pruess said.
In Milwaukee, eight of 20 freeway segments are so congested that motorists must allow twice as much time to consistently complete their trips during peak travel times as they would under uncongested conditions, the DOT said.
DOT officials said beyond helping drivers make an informed driving decision, the study is like a measuring stick to know what recommendations to make for future improvements.
DOT is studying potential improvements to relieve congestion on two of the most congested segments in the Milwaukee region: I-94 between the Marquette Interchange and the Zoo Interchange, and I-43 between Silver Spring Drive and Highway 60.
The statewide hours of vehicle delay decreased by 395,513 hours during the 2014 spring quarter compared to the year prior, the DOT said.