Several stretches of Katy-area highways ranked high on the list of the most congested roadways in Texas, according to a December report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The TTI uses traffic and speed data to measure congestion, and though the specific reasons for congestion vary among roads, economic growth is the most common factor, TTI officials said in a press release.
Though several sections of Katy-area roads remain in the top 100, the ranking of five sections of road dropped between 2018 and 2019—and most have seen drops multiple years in a row, according to the report.
The report uses data from 2019 and does not reflect congestion changes caused by the pandemic.
Among Katy-area roadways that ranked in the top 100 is I-10 from North Eldridge Parkway to the Sam Houston Tollway, which—under the 2019 data—ranked 14th on the list, an improvement from its rank of ninth in 2018 and fifth in 2016.
Still, in 2019, drivers wasted 560,394 hours per mile on this section of road, according to the report.
The report lists an annual cost of congestion for each road, which is calculated as the cost of wasted time for drivers and the fuel consumed due to the congestion.
“We drive it every day,” TTI Senior Research Scientist David Schrank said. “So it’s not like you’re going to be surprised that the Katy Freeway is listed, but it’s good to have that specific knowledge.”
Another section of I-10, from the Grand Parkway to North Eldridge Parkway, ranked 39th on the list. Drivers wasted 292,545 hours there in 2019, which cost $61.2 million.
Additionally, Hwy. 6 from I-10 to the Westpark Tollway fell from 73rd in 2018 to 76th in 2019.
Two other segments of road—North Fry Road from FM 529 to I-10 and Hwy. 6 from Hwy. 290 to I-10—dropped more significantly, both falling out of the top 100 list.
Though a drop in rank seems positive, it is more valuable to follow how a section of road ranks over time, Schrank said.
“Just because something changed ranks doesn’t necessarily mean that that road is better than it was the year prior,” he said. “It could just mean that the other roads that jumped it got worse faster.”
However, the rankings of most of these Katy-area roads have improved for multiple years in a row, according to the data. Every few years, researchers look into adding additional roads to the report if they have seen an increase in congestion, Schrank said.
“If you look at this in a year, or maybe two from now, we might have more roads in Katy than we do now because the area is growing,” he said.