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Everyone Is Sick of the 3 Worst Bottlenecks in America

Four lane controlled-access highway in PolandBottlenecks are the bane of truckers everywhere. Across the United States, they’re wasting thousands of hours of drive time and causing safety hazards for people on the road. Recently, the American Highway Users Alliance and the American Transportation Research Institute’s ranked a list of the worst bottlenecks in America.

About the Studies

The reports studied the effects of the worst bottlenecks and the positive impact that fixing them would have on the economy. Additionally, the report serves as a justification to the trucking industry’s worries about the state of the Highway Trust Fund. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves hopes the study will serve as “wake-up call to our nation’s leaders” about the costs of “neglecting our nation’s transportation infrastructure.”

Atlanta Tops the List

It probably comes as no surprise that this year’s worst bottleneck award goes to the Tom Moreland Interchange in Atlanta. The Interchange connects two major interstates: 285 and 85 in DeKalb County, Georgia. Atlanta is already known for being one of the worst states in the nation for traffic, and the Interchange is no different. The Interchange itself consists of a five-level stack, which is (not-so) lovingly nicknamed Spaghetti Junction. American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) recent study named it the #1 worst bottleneck in the United States out of a 250 surveyed locations. Average truck speeds in this area are roughly 40 mph, which can drop to 28mph on particularly congested days.

Chicago Tops One List, Comes in Second on Another

Coming in a close second is the area on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, which connects Interstate 90, Interstate 290, and Interstate 94. Ranked second on the ATRI list and first on the study by the American Highway Users Alliance, the Chicago chokepoint spans roughly 12 miles along I-90. The study found this particular bottleneck costs drivers 16.9 million hours each year, amounting to a wasted $418 million and 6.3 million gallons of fuel. Fixing just this one bottleneck would reduce our annual CO2 emissions by 133 million pounds.

Other Notable Bottlenecks

Taking third place is the Interchange at I-95 and State Rd. 4 in Fort Lee, NJ, which came in 1st last year. This area sees average speeds of 36 mph, dropping to 29 mph during peak times. The junction of I-65 and I-71 in Louisville, Kentucky, follows the Fort Lee bottleneck. The next four worst bottlenecks are located in the Houston, TX area.

What Fixing Bottlenecks Would Do

As our population increases, so do our demands for every day goods – and therefore our freight traffic. An exacerbated driver shortage combined with deteriorating infrastructure and a growing population is a recipe for disaster. The American Highway Users Alliance points out, however, that the problem is solvable. The study outlines the effects that fixing the 30 worst bottlenecks would have on the nation’s traffic over the next 20 years:

  • Increased productivity, saving roughly $39 billion in lost time
  • Improved traffic conditions, preventing an estimated 211,000 crashes
  • Better fuel efficiency, saving approximately 830 million gallons
  • Decreased emissions, leading to a 17 billion pound reduction of CO2

These bottlenecks don’t just affect the trucking industry; they impact all motorists on the road. Longer commute and shipping times and more carbon dioxide affects our economy and our planet. The ATA, in addition to other transportation organizations, strongly urges congress to allocate funds from the surface transportation act to improve costly and dangerous bottlenecks.


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