Urethane Blog

Biggest Bottlenecks

February 10, 2022

Driving to the GW Bridge? It’s the worst bottleneck again

American Transportation Research Institute says Texas has the most bottlenecks in US

John Kingston Follow on Twitter Wednesday, February 9, 2022 3 minutes read

The George Washington bridge. (Photo by Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

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Once again, the worst truck bottleneck in the country is as a driver approaches the George Washington Bridge (GWB) from the New Jersey side.

For the third consecutive year, the American Transportation Research Institute found the intersection between state Route 4 and Interstate 95 in New Jersey, just before eastbound traffic crosses the bridge into New York, is the biggest bottleneck in the U.S. ATRI, the research arm of the American Trucking Associations, released its annual list Wednesday.

ATRI uses truck GPS data from the previous year to come up with its findings. It said it uses data from more than 1 million freight trucks and has set up a series of benchmarks to reach its conclusions on the most congested bottlenecks. There are 100 bottlenecks on the list. 

Once again, there is only one city with two bottlenecks in the top 10: Atlanta. The intersection between Interstate 285, the loop around Atlanta, and Interstate 85 on the northeast side of the city was fourth on the list — it was third in the 2020 survey — and the intersection between Interstates 20 and 285 on the west side of Atlanta was fifth. 

The junction in Cincinnati between Interstates 71 and 75 was second on the list for a second consecutive year. That exchange goes by the name, similar to other intersections around the country, of Spaghetti Junction, given its many elevated ramps that cross each other at varying heights. 

ATRI said the rebound of traffic in 2021 had resulted in average rush hour truck speeds of 38.6 miles per hour, which was down more than 11% from the prior year as traffic recovered from the low levels of the pandemic. 

The Department of Transportation recently reported that total miles driven in November were more than in 2019, the first time since the pandemic began that vehicle miles traveled were greater than corresponding pre-pandemic levels. In November 2021, vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. totaled 267.5 billion. In November 2019, it was 260.3 billion miles.

Other highlights of the ATRI reports:

– Houston’s downtown intersection between Interstates 45 and 69, which is also state Route 59, moved up to third from fifth last year. Another significant move, albeit downward, came for the intersection between Interstates 75 and 24 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the only top 10 bottleneck not in one of the country’s biggest cities. It was 10th this year; last year it was seventh. 

– While Atlanta may be the only city with two top 10 bottlenecks, Southern California has two on the top 100. In Los Angeles, the intersection between state Routes 60 and 57 in Diamond Bar, a city in eastern Los Angeles County, is on the list, as is the intersection in San Bernardino between Interstates 10 and 15. 

– The George Washington Bridge approach was the only New York-area intersection in the top 10. The intersection between I-95 and Interstate 287 in Rye, New York, dropped off the top 10. It was ninth last year. It is down to 17th in the most recent survey.

– Chicago’s Interstate 290/90/94 intersection was sixth in both the 2021 and 2022 surveys.

– The states with the most bottlenecks on the top 100 list were Texas, 14; Georgia and Tennessee, nine; California, eight; Washington, seven; and Connecticut and New York, six. Texas’ ranking led to a statement being released by the Texas Trucking Association. “Texas is used to being ranked No. 1, but this is one list we are not proud to be on top of,” the association’s president and CEO, John D. Esparza, said. “Bottlenecks around the state continue to waste time and money, further damaging the already fragile supply chain. With the newly available federal resources for infrastructure projects, there is no excuse — these bottlenecks must be addressed. A reliable and stable transportation network is essential to our economy — just like the trucking industry.”

– Thirty states have at least one bottleneck on the list. Florida, where residents complain frequently about their traffic, has only one intersection on the list: Interstates 4 and 275 in Tampa at 69th. Boston’s traffic may be legendary as well, but it only came in with a 99th place spot, for Interstate 93 at SR 3. The Washington, D.C., area had a 92nd place finish for the intersection between I-95 and the beltway, known more formally as I-495. The 70th worst bottleneck intersection in Stafford, Virginia, on I-95 is on the more far-flung suburban outskirts of the D.C. suburbs in the Old Dominion State.