Ottawa traffic ranks 10th worst in North America

Ottawans deal with some of the worst traffic conditions on the continent, according to a report released by GPS manufacturer TomTom on Tuesday.

Ottawa is the 10th most-congested out of 26 North American cities ranked in the study. The capital placed third in Canada.

Los Angeles topped the list, followed by Vancouver, while Toronto scored ninth. Montreal came in 12th and Calgary was 16th, right behind New York City.

Ottawa ranked 15th last year.

During peak periods, city drivers are held up by 39 minutes per hour, the survey finds, noting those with a 30-minute commute see a 90-hour delay annually.

The best travel times are Friday morning and Monday night. The worst are Tuesday morning and Thursday evening.

City officials were skeptical of the findings.

“Not knowing the integrity of the data makes it very hard to comment,” said deputy city manager Nancy Schepers, who referred to a Statistics Canada report from 2008, which used 2006 Census data.

“And it concluded that Ottawa’s commute distance was actually one of the highest in the country, but that our daily round trip commute time was the second lowest in the country.”

To suddenly be ranked behind the likes of New York, Boston (19th) and Detroit (26th) is a dramatic change, she said.

Schepers also took issue with the report citing Jan. 12 as the slowest traffic day this year in Ottawa and Montreal.

“That was the first day of a three-day snowstorm, and it was really bad,” she said.

“I’m not sure that that’s what I would do my transportation planning around.”

At the same time, Schepers acknowledged traffic concerns exist in the capital.

“From a congestion perspective, our biggest single issue right now — because of the big picture and the 30% modal split with transit — is our congestion downtown,” she said. “And the city is moving ahead with our light rail project, which will tackle that specifically.”

Ottawa’s layout is reason enough for a longer travel time, said CAA spokesman Korey Kennedy.

“So you have Orléans, Barrhaven, the downtown core, as well as Kanata. Even without traffic, it takes a good amount of time for individuals to access one particular borough or jurisdiction,” he said.

Kennedy singled out Barrhaven for gridlock.

Compounded by the overall volume of traffic, “it’s quite challenging and cumbersome,” he said.

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