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Study: Americans Spent 5.5 Billion Additional Hours Sitting In Traffic In 2011

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File photo of cars backed up on an Interstate. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

File photo of cars backed up on an Interstate. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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(CBS Seattle / AP) – If time is money, Seattleites blow a lot of cash sitting in their cars.

According to a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Americans are adapting to road congestion by allowing, on average, an hour to make a trip that would take 20 minutes without traffic. The Urban Mobility Report says clogged roads cost Americans $121 billion in time and fuel in 2011 — that translates to Americans spending more than five billion additional hours sitting in traffic.

Seattle is one of the ten-most congested cities in the U.S., according to the study. Along with the Emerald City, the biggest offenders are Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, New York-Newark, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia.

New to the report this year is the amount of additional carbon dioxide that gets released into the atmosphere because of clogged roads. In 2011, that total was 56 billion pounds of additional carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 380 pounds per commuter.

The statistic “points to the importance of implementing transportation improvements to reduce congestion,” researcher and co-author David Schrank said.

The study also determined that Americans burned 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline while sitting in congestion, a slight improvement over the peak in 2005 when commuters wasted 3.2 billion gallons.

Researchers said 2005 remains the worst year recording for traffic congestion, but warn that recent improvement may be directly related to the recession. As the economy picks up again, the study’s authors warn, so might road congestion.

The institute notes that every community is unique and requires different, multi-faceted approaches to solving congestion.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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