Ahh Bottlenecks. Traffic Congestion Continues to Get Worse

Back in October we did a blog story about traffic congestion and where the worst bottlenecks happened to be. Last year, Atlanta’s Spaghetti Junction (where Interstates 285 and 85 converge) took home the dubious honor of being the place you’d most want to avoid.  The average speed on the interchange was 37 miles per hour, significantly below the actual speed limits on the highways. Now, that might not sound so bad, but consider the average miles per hour is based over a 24-hour period and you can see how that number will come down significantly during normal workday hours. Things went to bumper-to-bumper traffic during the afternoon rush hour, the average speed plunging to as low as 15 miles per hour between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

So, with ATRI’s new report just out, how did Atlanta fare this year?  Better in one way, worse in another. It gave up its crown to Fort Lee, New Jersey’s I-95 and SR4 interchange, which came in at a sluggish 31 mph for average speed. Atlanta’s I-285 and I-85 came in second place.  But, the kicker is, Atlanta’s average speed dropped down to 34 mph. That’s nearly an 8 percent speed reduction, showcasing how traffic congestion is getting worse, not better. In fact, in the study’s Top 100 bottleneckers, nearly all had worse congestion than the year before. Chicago’s I-290 at I-90 interchange, which placed 7th on the list, saw its average speed drop nearly 17 percent.  The Top 10 on the list saw an average speed decline of close to 9 percent.

How does ATRI come up with its number and are they accurate?  They are. The agency uses truck generated GPS data from nearly 1 million trucks to come up with its survey results. The goal of the survey is to help state and local agencies understand the problem and take corrective action to improve supply chain efficiency. But, as you can see, there’s a negative trend going on, so we hope they take results from this survey to heart and start developing ideas to improve traffic flow for the benefit of all.

Here are the country’s Top 10 Bottlenecks 

  1. Fort Lee, New Jersey: I-95 at SR 4
  2. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
  3. Atlanta: I-75 at I-285 (North)
  4. Los Angeles: SR 60 at SR 57
  5. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
  6. Cincinnati: I-71 at I-75
  7. Chicago: I-290 at I-90/I-94
  8. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
  9. Atlanta: I-20 at I-285 (West)
  10. Los Angeles: I-710 at I-105