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Traffic congestion in DC region to explode in coming years

Vehicle hours of delay will increase by 74 percent and congestion will increase by 66 percent by 2040, according to projections from the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board released last week. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — Traffic congestion and delays in the D.C. metro area are expected to get much worse by 2040.

Vehicle hours of delay will increase by 74 percent and congestion will increase by 66 percent, according to projections the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board released last week.

“If we did nothing, the congestion would be much worse,” said Chairman Timothy Lovain of myriad plans to help alleviate traffic.

Half of all congestion is caused by nonrecurring incidents such as wrecks and breakdowns, Lovain said.

“Better incident response — that’s the most cost-effective congestion reduction you can do,” Lovain said. “We’re OK at incident response, but there are other regions that are doing it better.”

Lovain said this metro area could learn from Seattle’s success.

“They clear 85 percent of all accidents off of the roadway within 15 minutes,” Lovain said. “They have these roving patrols and tow trucks and police cadets on the lookout for things, and they have cameras and sensors.”

Those are some ideas that may be explored at a conference in D.C. next week.

The TPB is hosting the Traffic Incident Management Conference on Nov. 2, where local and national experts will discuss what works and what doesn’t.

The event is free and open to the public.

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