In-depth: Transportation experts say job growth linked to more Bay Area traffic

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) —¬†Stuck in traffic and going nowhere fast?

It is a familiar refrain for many Bay Area commuters who say it feels like the situation is getting worse. Well, they’re right. And transportation experts say you can blame it on jobs.

On Wednesday, KRON4 went in-depth to examine the slow lane that connects where you live to where you work.

The Bay Area is the only region in California, says the state department of finance, where the rate of people moving in from other parts of the country exceeds the number of those leaving the region.

Alameda and Contra Costa counties are leading the pack. They are two counties at the top of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s list of worst commutes.

“When we don’t provide housing in sufficient amounts, our commute gets a lot worse,” UC Berkeley Associate Professor Daniel Chatman said.

Census data shows that in 2010, the Bay Area population was just over 7 million people. By 2020, the Bay Area population is projected to exceed 9 million people.

And that boom is taking a big bite out of our commute, Chatman said.

Chatman is an associate professor of city and regional planning for the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley.

“In the case of San Francisco, we have lots of willingness to provide more housing,” Chatman said. “But elsewhere in the Bay Area, there are more constraints on housing production, and so as a result, the growth that wants to occur in dense infill areas often can’t occur there.”

Chatman specializes in transportation and land-use planning.

“Berkeley is a good example of that where there’s lots of opposition to housing, and while we do have pretty good housing production here recently, that won’t necessarily always be the case,” Chatman said.

Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation, land-use, and housing strategy for the San Francisco Bay Area through the year 2040 .

Most jobs are located in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley with most affordable housing in between.

“People start to really pay attention to transportation when they’re finding it very difficult to get to and from work or to other locations,” Chatman said.

This interactive map gives you an idea of what’s been happening, and what’s to come.

Looking ahead to the year 2020, during the busy AM commute, the blue shows you where housing prices range between $90,000 and $500,000.

The blue also indicates how far you can drive in the Bay Area from San Francisco in a single occupant car in 1 hour.

But for those using public transportation, getting around will be much more difficult because there is not as much affordable housing located within an hour of the city.

That theme rings true for those commuting to or from San Jose as well.

Let’s go back to the map.

If you can afford more for housing, well then you can live closer to public transportation and jobs, but not all of us have that kind of money.

“Growth in the Bay Area depends a lot not only on demand, not only on desirability of the neighborhoods, but on the willingness of municipalities to zone and provide housing in those locations,” Chatman said.

This decade, the state department of finance says we are building housing at less than half the rate we were the previous decade.

And experts like Chatman say that needs to change. Otherwise, the commuter’s headache will only get worse.

One of the most congested thoroughfares in the Bay Area is in the East Bay along Interstate 80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge.

Caltrans has installed so-called Smart Lanes as a possible solution.

On Thursday on KRON4 News at 10, we go in-depth to see just how smart this innovation really is–or is not.

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