Traffic Worsens as Economy Improves

As the economy rebounds, more and more people pack onto planes and trains -- but mostly their automobiles.

By Chris Roberts
|  Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012  |  Updated 2:03 PM PDT
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Traffic Worsens as Economy Improves

AP

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The next time you're stuck in gridlock, just remind yourself: the daily traffic grind is a sign of American recovery.

"More drivers are clogging Silicon Valley's busiest stretch of freeway now than they did during the dot-com boom," the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday. That's in part because "the workforce from San Francisco to San Jose is the largest it has been in more than a decade," the newspaper reported.

And if there's longer commute times, more bottlenecks and less time with loved ones -- hey, "at least more people are employed," said Jim Wunderman, CEO of business group Bay Area Council, in comments to the newspapeer.

It's not just freeways and bridges that are crowded -- flights from the Bay Area's three airports and train cars on BART and Caltrain are packed, too, the newspaper reported.

An "extra 1.2 million vehicles" drove on Bay Area bridges in 2011, the newspaper reported, and BART set a ridership record by adding "10 million annual passengers in two years," according to the newspaper.

Problem is, these extra riders, drivers and airline passengers are traveling on ancient infrastructure, nearly all of which needs an overhaul, the newspaper reported -- and there's not yet been found extra money in this improving economy to pay for all that.

BART says it needs $7.5 billion alone, while the "total debt for Bay Area roads and transit repairs" is pegged at $50 billion, the newspaper reported.

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