It's a good news/bad news story.
First, the bad news: According to a just-released report, Tampa led the way in 2010-11 among cities that experienced an increase in traffic congestion.
The good? According to the report, that increase is a reflection of economic recovery.
INRIX is the outlet that released the report, which ran on USA Today's front page on Tuesday. The Kirkland, Washington company touts itself as a "leading international provider of real-time traffic information and driver services in the car, online and on mobile devices." According to its data, traffic congestion in 2010-2011 dropped an average of 30 percent in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas. High gas prices and the spotty economy contributed to the decrease.
But for those cities where congestion rose, there's a silver lining:
INRIX reports that the cities experiencing one of the biggest increases in traffic outpaced the national average of 1.5 percent growth in employment. Tampa was up 3 percent in growth, Miami (which had had the 7th biggest increase in traffic) had 2.3 percent increase in growth, and Houston (8th biggest increase in traffic) saw 3.2 percent growth.
The study finds that Honolulu has surpassed L.A. as the most congested U.S. city in 2011.
One factor that eased traffic conditions in much of the country, says INRIX, is the lack of road construction projects throughout the country, which the study attributes to the stalled economy.
That led Matt Drudge on Tuesday to headline his home page by linking to the USA Today story with his headline "Obama economy cures traffic woes."