Traffic congestion on Bay Area freeways fell last year because of the economic recession and highway improvements but motorists will still see backups in some of the familiar places, transportation officials said Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Caltrans District 4 said the daily number of vehicle hours of delay due to congestion in the nine-county region dropped 12 percent in 2008.
It was the first reduction in traffic congestion since 2003.
Bay Area motorists experienced 142,400 vehicle hours, equivalent to more than 16 years, of delay during the morning and afternoon commute periods on an average weekday in 2008, transportation officials said.
It was the lowest region-wide total since the 135,700 hours in 2005 and nearly 20 percent less that the 177,600 hours registered at the height of the 2000 high-tech boom.
The morning commute along westbound Interstate Highway 80 to the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza retained its ranking as the worst congestion hot spot with an average of 7,800 daily vehicle hours of delay, the transportation agencies said.
But even traffic delays along this corridor fell almost 8 percent in 2008 from 8,450 hours of delay on an average day in 2007.