Gridlock loosens grip on Boston in 2008

Like the rest of the US, metropolitan Boston experienced a "startling" decrease in traffic congestion last year, but we still have more than our share of traffic bottlenecks, according to new data from Inrix Traffic Services.

The market research company, which compiles data from GPS-equipped vehicles, estimated that traffic congestion during peak travel times dropped by 29 percent in the 100 largest urban areas last year, with only Baton Rouge, Louisiana, registering more crowded roads. Inrix cites "turbulent fuel prices and a struggling economy" for the drop. Congestion in high-unemployment Detroit, for example, dropped by 47 percent.

In Boston, congestion dropped by 27 percent, a bit below the national average, and we're ranked as the 8th most congested area in the US overall. The worst "bottleneck" in the region was at the Southeast Expressway and Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester. It ranked 190th in the US in 2007 but rose to 116th last year.