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The costs of congestion in the Pensacola metro have been quietly declining over the past several years, according to a new report.

The Pensacola metropolitan area is among the least congested cities in America, as ranked by a study of the largest metro areas in the U.S.

The folks at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX confirm that with their 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard. They found that Pensacola drivers spend an extra $849 a year sitting behind the wheel in traffic. While that figure may sound alarming, it’s down from $1,000 in 2006.

Congested roads in the Pensacola area cost the typical driver 38 hours in delays last year and cost our local economy nearly $250 million in lost time and burned fuel.

In all, the toll of driving on slow-moving highways and arterial streets resulted in 5 million gallons of increased fuel consumption in the Pensacola Metro in 2014.

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The report, which analyzed 471 small, medium and large urban areas in the U.S., paints a picture of gridlock in the Pensacola metro area.

Among the local findings:

-Pensacola fared better than the national average for delays per driver. Nationwide, drivers lost nearly 44 hours last year.

-Local delays were better than they have been. Congestion and lost time cost the Pensacola metro economy $247 million in 2014 – down from a high of $290 million in 2006.

-Daily freeway miles traveled climbed to their highest levels ever to more than 1.6 million, up from 1.4 million in 2013.

The data also shows that Pensacola, with a studied metro population of nearly 400,000 people and 182,000 drivers, is getting better when compared to other metro areas.

The 38 hours lost per year in congestion per driver ranks the metro as the 55th-worst in the U.S., improving from 48th in 2013 . However, the total delay for drivers as a whole in the metro was ranked as 85th among 101 U.S. cities, making Pensacola one of the least congested metro areas in the nation.

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– The New Orleans metro, with a population of about 1 million and 500,000 drivers as measured by the study, lost 45 hours in delays per driver last year, at an average cost of $1,161 per driver. The cost to the economy was $1 billion.

The Gulf Coast’s smaller metros were also included in the study, but were not among the 101 largest urban areas:

– The Mobile metro, with a population of 339,000 and 187,000 drivers as measured by the study, lost 30 hours in delays per driver last year, at an average cost of $670 per driver. The cost to the economy was $236 million, slightly lower than Pensacola.

-The Fort Walton Beach area, with a population of 208,000 and 117,000 drivers, lost 23 hours in delays per driver last year, at an average cost of $494 per driver. The cost to the economy was $107 million in 2014.

-The Tallahassee metro area, with a population of 200,000 and 112,000 drivers, lost 28 hours in delays per driver last year, at an average cost of $621 per driver. The cost to the economy was $130 million in 2014.

-The Panama City metro area, with a population of 150,000 and 86,000 drivers, lost 21 hours in delays last year, at an average cost of $485 per driver. The cost to the economy was $77 million in 2014.

-The Pascagoula-Biloxi metro, with a population of 50,000 and 29,000 drivers, lost 14 hours in delays last year, at an average cost of $323 per driver. The cost to the economy was $18 million in 2014.

Nationwide, Washington, D.C. had the most gridlock – 82 hours per driver, while those in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and San Jose, Calif., each lost at least 67 hours per year.

So when all’s said and done, you might just be better off just riding your bike.

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