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Verify: How Charlotte traffic compares to before the pandemic

According to the Charlotte Department of Transportation, Uptown is still at half of the traffic it was pre-pandemic. Other areas around the city are down 10% to 20%

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With more people logging off Zoom and heading back to the office, traffic in Charlotte has steadily picked up over the last few months. 

And with that extra traffic comes the usual headaches during rush hour: Traffic jams, accidents and even longer delays in construction zones. 

But how does the traffic in Charlotte right now compare to before the pandemic?

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THE QUESTION 

Is the traffic in Charlotte back to pre-pandemic levels? 

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, according to the data sent by NCDOT and the City of Charlotte, most traffic is not back to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, places like Uptown are at half the traffic than they were pre-pandemic. 

WHAT WE FOUND

WCNC Charlotte compared NCDOT data from August 2019, August 2020 and August 2021. NCDOT has sensors at certain intersections that was compiled. 

Taking a look at Interstate 277 north of U.S. 74 in August 2019, the average daily number of vehicles during a given weekend was about 95,100. During the pandemic, that number dipped down to about 84,500. That's around 10,000 fewer, or an 11% decrease. 

In August 2021, the number jumped back up to 94,775, just about 200 fewer cars per day than before the pandemic. 

Similarly, on Interstate 77, just south of Westinghouse Boulevard, August 2019 showed 176,700 vehicles. Last year the number was down to 145,200. In August of 2021, that number sat at 145,200, still 13,500 fewer than before the pandemic. 

Bryant said the traffic in Charlotte is starting to get back on track but it's not 100% back to pre-pandemic levels. 

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Credit: City of Charlotte

"It’s getting close," Bryant said. "I would say the rule of thumb, some areas are back, but then a large portion are in that negative 10 to negative 20 range," Bryant said. 

According to Bryant Uptown traffic is still down about half of the volume than it was before the pandemic. 

"The losses are pretty heavy in Uptown where we are at currently," Bryant said. "There are still some locations that are down near negative 50% to what they were pre-pandemic."

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VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.