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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Life in Hampton Roads, Part IV: Average Commute Time Drops, but Congestion Worries Remain

Hampton Roads residents report a decline in their average commute to work or school, but nearly half say they have avoided visiting a business in a neighboring city in the last 12 months because of concern over traffic congestion.

Nearly 900 local residents gave their opinions about the state of transportation in the region for the sixth annual Life in Hampton Roads survey conducted by Old Dominion's Social Science Research Center.

Respondents reported a decrease in their daily commute for the fourth consecutive year, an average of 20 minutes. That is down four minutes from last year and seven minutes from 2011.

And while the percentage of residents who recently avoided visiting a business in a neighboring city because of congestion dipped two percent to 46.2 percent, that's still the second-highest rate in the last four years.

Other highlights of the transportation survey include:

48.1 percent of respondents said they did not intentionally avoid bridge or tunnel tolls. That is an 8.6-percent increase from 2014, indicating the region's drivers are adjusting their commutes or travel budgets to accommodate tolls.

However, 37.4 percent of respondents said they avoided visiting a business in a neighboring city due to tunnel or bridge tolls in the past month.

Among drivers who purposely avoid tolls, there was an 11.1-percent drop in those who took different routes from 2014, but a 14.7-percent increase in those who reduced their travel during peak traffic periods.

"The survey reveals a region with ongoing and substantial transportation challenges," research center director Randy Gainey said. "The imposition of tolls on regional bridges and tunnels has led to substantial changes in traffic and commute patterns."

The transportation report can be seen here, and the full Life in Hampton Roads survey can be accessed at the Social Science Research Center website.

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