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Califoria: recession kicks in, traffic volumes drop


I made two lists of the busiest California freeways.



source: Caltrans Traffic branch

Notice the amount of 300,000 + road sections (between two exits) has dropped from 50 to 35, and that the busiest freeway (I-405 near Seal Beach) has dropped from 397,000 AADT in 2007 to 374,000 AADT in 2008, a 6% decrease in one year, unseen in California's booming metropolis.

I made a comparison of all 2007 300,000 + AADT locations and the new 2008 volumes.

I made this list using the 2007 and 2008 AADT XLS files from the Caltrans Traffic data branch.

It's visible the recession seems to have it's effect on traffic volumes, overall, they seem to drop around 2 - 3% on most of the busiests spots. However, the I-405 volumes through Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach seem to decrease incredibly. This is hardly natural.

There are a few options to explain this:

1) Recession hit that area harder than other places - unlikely
2) 2007 AADT estimates were higher than the actual traffic - could be
3) 2008 AADT estimates were lower than the actual traffic  - could be
4) significant roadworks in 2008 along I-405 - likely, not verified yet.
5) rerouting of traffic - unlikely, there are no alternatives opened afaik

can we get some better granularity?  on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis perhaps?  (One week would be, I would imagine, the finest reasonable quantum of information, since within that interval, weekday-vs-weekend traffic patterns would dominate.)

gas prices change within the year more than they do between years.  I remember gas being at $4.61 here in the San Diego area around last August, and traffic almost - almost! - starting to approximate a degree of mobility more favorable than that of major landmasses. 

When it dropped to $1.49 in about three months, wouldn't ya know it, people took their Behemoth XLTs out of storage and went cruising down the freeway at 11mph again.


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