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L.A. traffic problems ease somewhat amid recession, study finds

July 8, 2009 |  9:52 am

The recession appears to easing Los Angeles' notorious traffic problems somewhat, according to a new study that found the region continues to have the nation's worst commute.

According to data released from the Texas Transportation Institute, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana region saw slight declines in annual traffic delays and excess fuel consumption. The report looked at 2007 data, the most recent available.

The findings underscore a Times analysis of traffic patterns last year. The Times found evidence that commute times were decreasing and freeway speeds in some areas were increasing.

The institute found a similar trend in other parts of the nation and attributed the small dips in traffic to the economy and fuel prices.

"Though it might have been hard to notice, traffic congestion took a break from its worsening trend even before the current recession, with high gas prices in the last half of 2007 bringing about a slight reduction in traffic," the organization said in a statement. "The recession that took hold soon after could prolong that effect, but experts warn that the slowdown in congestion growth will be temporary. When the economy rebounds, expect traffic problems to do the same."

The Los Angeles area continued to have the worse congestion in the country, according to the report, followed by New York; Chicago; Atlanta; Miami; Dallas-Fort Worth; Washington, D.C.; the Bay Area; Houston; and Detroit.

--Shelby Grad