Eastshore Freeway tops worst Bay Area commutes

A list of the Bay Area’s top 10 most congested freeway commutes in 2014 was released Thursday¬†by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Topping the list is the westbound morning commute on Interstate Highway 80 from Hercules to Oakland, commission officials said. The I-80 commute has held the top spot often in the last 15 years or so, but dropped to fourth in 2013, commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

The congested freeway segment extends for 17 miles from the state Highway 4 interchange to the Bay Bridge toll plaza, according to commission officials.

The second most congested commute is the southbound morning drive on Interstate Highway 880 between San Leandro and Milpitas, which was also second last year, commission officials said.

In third place, is the southbound afternoon commute on U.S.

Highway 101 from Fair Oaks Avenue in Sunnyvale to Oakland Road in North San Jose, according to commission officials.

The freeway congestion list is part of a suite of transportation indicators compiled by the commission, a list that includes a measure of “congested delay.” Congested delay is a condition in which traffic moves at 35 mph or less for a period of 15 minutes or more, Goodwin said.

Congested delay in the Bay Area was up 3 percent in 2014 to 2.7 minutes per commuter per weekday, on average, from 2.6 minutes in 2013, commission officials said.

The 2.7 figure is a record level of delay per commuter, up nearly 40 percent from 1.9 minutes in 2010, according to commission officials.

Growth in population and employment are behind the increase in congested delay, even though the Bay Area’s population and employment are not growing as fast as congestion, Goodwin said.

He likened the link between congestion delay and employment and population growth to the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Small changes can have a big impact on congestion conditions,” Goodwin said.

He said on Columbus Day this year, aggregate roadway demand was down 3 to 5 percent, but congestion was down by 50 percent.

Transportation investments in coming years may help alleviate congestion.

BART service to San Jose, BART capacity improvements, Caltrain electrification and new express lanes on freeways may help, Santa Clara County Supervisor and MTC chair Dave Cortese said in a statement.

Also, if the number of commuters traveling by car continues to shrink, congestion may shrink too.

Carpoolers and solo drivers amounted to 76 percent of commute trips in 2014, down from 78 percent in 2010. During the same time, the percentage of workers commuting by transit increased to 12 percent from 10 percent, according to commission officials.