science environment

Oregon Sees An Uptick In Traffic As Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
May 12, 2020 6:15 p.m.

Although vehicle traffic statewide is lighter than it was the same time last year, over the past month traffic volume has begun increasing.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has been tracking traffic volume along the state’s 13 major highway corridors, and has a


website displaying its findings

. During the first week of Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order (March 23–29), the state saw an average of 220,814 vehicles on highways during weekdays.


The week after also saw a drop in traffic volume. But the weeks since have shown traffic slowly building.

For the week of April 27–May 3, the most recent week of full data available from ODOT, the average was more than 259,000 vehicles during weekdays.

“For the month of April, traffic began with 43% lower weekday volumes than 2019,” ODOT’s report states. “By the end of April the difference changed to 29% below 2019 weekday volumes.”

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said the traffic increase is expected as some businesses and areas begin to open and the weather gets better.

“We expect to see a continued uptick as some of the public facilities start to open up again and people come out into the sun and start to get their jobs done and get their lives back on track,” Hamilton said. “This is going to be a slow, gradual process for a long time.”

Still, Hamilton said, the uptick in traffic is a reminder that Oregonians should continue to take measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“Oregon has seen some benefits from the quarantine work that we’re doing and I think that it’s important that we keep that going,” he said. “I think that’ll be critical for us to keep the number of cases to a minimum and the number of deaths to a minimum, too.”