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Austin’s I-35 again has worst traffic for truckers in Texas

Truckers statewide were delayed 15 million hours in bottleneck traffic, wasting 24 million gallons of fuel in 2020

Roadways in Houston, Dallas and Austin topped the list for most bottlenecked traffic for truckers in Texas during 2020. (Photo: Texas A&M Transportation Institute)

Interstate 35 in downtown Austin is the most gridlocked roadway in the Lone Star State for truck drivers, according to an annual report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). 

It was the second year in a row that I-35 in Austin topped the TTI report for most congested roadway for truckers traveling through the state.

Truck drivers spent almost 640,000 hours in traffic on I-35 in Austin, costing them $118 million in lost time and fuel during 2020, according to the study.

“Perhaps no year in our memory has seen more attention brought to trucking, transportation logistics, and the global supply chain than the pandemic year of 2020,” Bill Eisele, a TTI senior research engineer, said in a statement.

“The results of this year’s study of congested roads in Texas reflect this increased demand, as many of the worst freight bottlenecks are new to the top 100, including some along the U.S.-Mexico border where trucking was especially active to keep up with supply demands.”

In total, truck drivers were delayed 15.3 million hours in bottleneck traffic across the Lone Star State, wasting 24.7 million gallons of fuel and costing the trucking industry $797 million in lost time and fuel costs during 2020.

TTI analyzed 1,800 sections of roadway covering almost 10,000 miles in areas ranging from rural West Texas to major cities.

Houston had five roadways in the top 10, the most of any city, while Dallas and Austin had two a piece.

“For trucking around the state, truck travel might have waned a bit when the initial shutdown occurred in March, but in many cases this slowdown did not last long, and truck traffic returned to normal levels quickly,” according to the study. “In some cases, truck traffic increased in corridors for the year despite the pandemic, such as Mines Road in Laredo, Texas.” 

The 10 most congested spots in Texas during 2020, according to TTI:

1. AustinI-35 from U.S. 290 North to Ben White Boulevard
2. DallasI-35, from State Highway 183 to Interstate 30
3. HoustonInterstate 10, from Katy Freeway to Interstate 69
4. HoustonI-69, from State Highway 288 to I-10
5. Houston I-69, from Interstate 610 to State Highway 288
6. Austin I-35, from Ben White Boulevard to Slaughter Lane
7. DallasI-35, from State Highway 183 to I-30
8. LaredoMines Road/FM 1472
9. HoustonState Highway 288, from Interstate 45 to I-610
10. HoustonI-610, from I-45 to U.S. 290

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]