- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

DENVER (AP) - It’s not in your head - driving to work in the Denver metro area can be a hassle, and people are taking slightly longer to get to their jobs than the national average commute time.

People with jobs in Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood who drive alone take 26 minutes to get to work, according to a nationwide analysis of traffic congestion by The Associated Press. Nationally, the average commute time for solo drivers is 25.8 minutes.

The longest commute time nationally is in the metro area of the District of Columbia, where drivers take almost 32 minutes to get to work.

Denver metro drive times will likely lengthen if transportation funding continues to lag behind the demands of population growth. In 2010, about 2.5 million lived in Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood. The population in those areas is now 2.7 million and it’s expected to grow by another 200,000 by 2020.

The congestion analysis is based on 2013 census data, the most recent available. The data includes only places nationally with 100,000 people or more, and doesn’t include workers who walk or bike to work.

Rep. Max Tyler, a Democrat who chairs Colorado’s Transportation Committee and whose district includes Lakewood, said he hasn’t heard too much grumbling from constituents about traffic, but noted that could change.

“Clearly, if we don’t do anything it’s not going to get any better unless more people start using public transit,” he said.

Just over 1 million people drive to work by themselves in the Denver metro area, and about 121,300 carpool. An estimated 60,200 use public transportation.

People who carpool in the Denver area take longer to get to work than those who drive alone, with an average time of almost 29 minutes.

Transportation funding in Colorado is becoming a bigger issue with lawmakers from both parties voicing concerns. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, infrastructure needs are underfunded by about $800 million annually.

Rep. Jon Becker, a Republican who also sits on the Transportation Committee, said lawmakers will have to consider a variety of options, whether it’s being more efficient with money for projects, finding ways to bond for new construction, investing more on public transportation, or looking at the state gas tax, which is 22 cents per gallon and hasn’t been increased since 1991.

The analysis also found that in:

- Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city, commute times for solo drivers average 22.5 minutes, and 23.1 minutes for carpoolers.

- Boulder, the average time for solo drivers is 22.9 minutes, and 25.5 minutes for carpoolers.

- Greeley, the average time for solo drivers is 25.6 minutes, and 27.5 for carpoolers.

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