This Arkansas City Has Been Named the Worst Traffic City in the State
An issue that affects many places is traffic congestion, with some cities having worse traffic problems than others. A national transportation research group called TRIP recently did a study that says West Memphis is the most crowded place in Arkansas.
What is making West Memphis so crowded?
West Memphis is in Crittenden County, which is close to the Mississippi and Tennessee borders. It is part of the Memphis urban area, which has more than 1.3 million people living in it. A lot of important roads, like Interstate 40, Interstate 55, U.S. Route 61, U.S. Route 70, and U.S. Route 79, cross through the city, making it a transportation hub. These roads connect West Memphis to nearby towns like Little Rock, Nashville, St. Louis, and New Orleans, but they also slow down traffic, especially during rush hours.
According to the TRIP report, 43% of West Memphis’s major roads are in fair to poor shape, and 17% are backed up with traffic. West Memphis drivers are stuck in traffic for an average of 651 hours a year, which costs each driver $1,822 a year and is the most in Arkansas.
So what are the effects of all this driving in West Memphis?
More than just being annoying for drivers in West Memphis, traffic jams have effects that reach far and wide. It has bad effects on the city’s income, the environment, and safety, such as
- Reduced economic productivity and competitiveness: Businesses and workers in West Memphis have less efficient and reliable transportation because of traffic jams, which hurts their ability to compete and produce goods. According to the TRIP study, this makes people less likely to invest and visit the city, which costs Arkansas drivers a total of $780 million every year.
- More pollution and greenhouse gas emissions: Traffic jams cause more fuel to be used and more emissions, which adds to pollution and climate change. In turn, this impacts public health and natural resources. In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. came from transportation.
- Increased risk of traffic accidents and deaths: West Memphis traffic jams make accidents more likely and worse because drivers are more stressed, frustrated, distracted, and tired. It also makes it harder for rescue services to get to people who need them. According to the TRIP study, Arkansas drivers lose $839 million a year in traffic accidents. In 2019, 36 fatal accidents killed 39 people in Crittenden County.
What can be done to make West Memphis’s traffic less bad?
Getting rid of traffic jams in West Memphis requires a broad, joint effort from many groups. Here are some possible solutions:
- Adding on to and improving the infrastructure of existing roads: This could mean widening lanes, resurfacing roads, fixing bridges, making traffic move better, and putting in place traffic management tools like traffic lights.
- Supporting different ways to get around: efforts should be made to improve public transportation, create bike lanes and walking paths, set up parking lots and carpool lanes, and support flexible work plans and telecommuting.
- Using smart transportation technologies: Using smart transportation systems (ITS) like sensors, cameras, signs, and communication tools can help control and watch over traffic in real time, making it easier to get around.
- Investing more in and raising the money for transportation infrastructure: Tolls, bonds, grants, fuel and vehicle taxes, or partnerships with the business sector and other levels of government are all possible sources of money.
The TRIP study finally found that West Memphis is the most congested city in Arkansas, which isn’t a very good title. This problem has a big effect on the business, environment, and safety of West Memphis, as well as on the daily lives of drivers. To make these problems less of a problem, we need to find many ways to improve transportation systems and make people less reliant on their own cars.