COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A Seattle-based firm revealed that traffic congestion in Colorado Springs may be worse than most people realize, but that the situation actually may turn out to be better than expected.
The annual report of Inrix, a company that gathers traffic information for navigation and mapping, states that traffic congestion in the city grew 58 percent last year -- the highest percentage gain in the country.
By comparison, Charleston, S.C., ranked second (39 percent) and Grand Rapids, Mich., ranked third (38 percent). Denver ranked ninth with an increase of 20 percent.
Inrix cited road construction, the Black Forest wildfire and flooding last fall as factors contributing to the rising percentage of traffic congestion in Colorado Springs.
Tom Roberts, the city's senior transportation planner, said he's surprised at the rate of increase but not worried that it will continue rising.
"You look at the factors that go into the delay, us working to improve our infrastructure is a good thing," he said. "So if the result of the congestion is because we were improving our roadways, and you look at the travel times now after that construction is done, I'm sure you're going find that next year's results are a lot better."
Roberts said the city is working on or planning other major projects that should further reduce its rate of traffic congestion in the near future.
Inrix said nationwide, traffic congestion has been higher in strong economic years and lower in weaker years. For example, the company said traffic congestion dropped 30 percent in 2008, the year in which the recent recession was believed to be at its worst.