KILGORE (TNS) — A Utah-based insurer's analysis of Texas travel times puts Kilgore in spot 30 among the 40 best commuter cities in the state.

Beyond Kilgore's commuting drivers themselves — averaging 19.1 minutes en route to the job — it's good news for local officials, businesses and economic developers in a town with a daytime population almost double the official population figures.

"I think anytime Kilgore is presented in a positive light, it's good news," said Jana Russell, assistant director and marketing manager for Kilgore Economic Development Corporation. "I also think that when you have a third party presenting Kilgore in a positive light, that is something that I can use."

Obrella, "a community focused organization that simplifies and adds transparency to the insurance shopping experience by providing helpful resources and comparing car insurance providers," is headquartered in Salt Lake City and has this year analyzed commutes in Utah, California, Florida and Texas.

"From the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast, every region of the Lone Star state had its fair share of commuter friendly cities," said Obrella Data Analyst Alexia Chianis. "What really impressed me was the high percent of commuters who carpooled. In fact, on average, 14 percent of workers who live in the best commuter cities in Texas carpool to work. That's nearly 50 percent more than the national average."

Compiling its spotlight list, Obrella utilized data from the 2013 Census Survey to focus on cities with populations in excess of 10,000 residents and incorporated the most recent survey results released by the U.S. Census bureau, analyzing the traffic data of those cities.

"Obrella analysts sorted cities by average commute time and used other available data points to help visualize the breakdown of commute types and commute lengths," according to a press release from the firm.

The city of Vernon topped the list with an average commute time of 13.5 minutes, followed by Plainview's 15.9-minute average commute. Nacogdoches earned the fifth slot on the list, "a great place to settle if you want to open a business and enjoy a short commute" of 16.7 minutes.

Mt. Pleasant was ranked 11th (an average 17.1-minute commute) and Lufkin earned spot 13 (17.2 minutes) followed by Texarkana in 14th (17.5 minutes).

"On average, Americans spend about 25 minutes commuting to work, so that means almost an hour in the car each day," according to Obrella Insider. "But the typical drive for residents of the best commuter cities in Texas is just 18 minutes, and for six in 10 workers, the trip takes less than 15 minutes.

Henderson was ranked in the 34th spot on the list with an average commute time of 19.4 minutes.

Kilgore beat the national commuting average but trailed behind the state's, slightly edging (14.52 percent) the Texas average for carpooling as most local commuters (80.79 percent) travel alone.

Obrella's data included no incidences of mass transit and notes 1.45 percent of the workforce works from home.

"Kilgore has distinct small town appeal. An affordable cost of living, new housing, and a school district that boasts some of the highest test scores in the state, it's easy to see why Kilgore residents are full of pride," according to the firm's release. "Situated in the eastern part of the state, Kilgore has convenient access to Interstate 20 and is surrounded by a handful of communities, such as Longview and Tyler. Its stellar location could be one reason why Kilgore has a low unemployment rate and an average commute of 19.1 minutes."

The most recent data released by the census bureau puts Kilgore's population at 14,518 as of 2013.

"Our workforce is about 12 counties according to a strategic planning firm in Austin," according to KEDC's Russell. "The daytime population in Kilgore is 24,451. That's a five-mile radius around the towncenter."

The commuting data is gratifying for Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin, but he said he's most-pleased with the firm's conclusions.

"The commute part is nice, but there are several others in there they commented on that really make you proud," Spradlin explained. "It sounds just all favorable about Kilgore."


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