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U.S. Most Congested Highways

By on June 4, 2010
RoadKing Mag

Up for a challenge? How well do you know highway congestion?

As part of the ongoing Freight Performance Measures (FPM) initiative, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Freight Management and Operations are monitoring freight significant highway locations.

This research uses ATRI-developed analysis methods, GPS technology, truck-specific information, sophisticated customized software applications and tools and terabytes of data from trucking operations to assess the level at which truck-based freight was affected each year by traffic congestion.

In case you’re wondering, a terabyte is a measure of computer storage capacity that is 2 to the 40th power, or approximately a trillion bytes (a byte is a unit of data that is eight binary digits long). The prefix tera is derived from the Greek word for monster.

From its monitoring program, ATRI and FHWA recently released the findings of their “2009 Bottleneck Analysis of 100 Freight Significant Highway Locations.” The research assesses the level of truck-oriented congestion on the national highway system and produces a congestion severity ranking for each location.
While the general impact of congestion on freight is typically problematic during AM and PM rush hours, the research found that there locations where congestion affects freight mobility during all hours of the day, and there are other locations where congestion is not a recurring issue. Average speeds that are below free flow speeds — which is set at 55 mph — are considered to reflect congestion.

Seems to me the two organizations could have saved a ton of money by just asking a couple of truckers about traffic congestion on freight.

The research “is useful to both private and public sector freight stakeholders that wish to better understand the severity of congestion and mobility constraints experienced along the transportation system,” said ATRI and FHWA. “For the public sector, the measurement of freight significant congestion can allow for better-informed identification of transportation system deficiencies. This identification, in turn, may lead to infrastructure, operations and ITS investment that may improve freight mobility.” (We can only hope so.)
“Additionally, the private sector can use this type of information to calibrate routing so as to avoid peak congestion.” As if it was that simple.

What do you think are the top five locations with the highest congestion ranking?

Heading list is I-290 at I-90/I94 in Chicago, followed by I-90 at I-94 North, also in Chicago.
Next is I-95 at SR-4 in Fort Lee, N.J.; I-35 in Austin, Texas; and I-285 at I-85 North in Atlanta, Ga.
At the bottom of the ranking, places 95 to 100, are: I-459 at I-59/I-20 in Birmingham, Ala.; I-10 (east of the tunnel) in Mobile, Ala.; I-17 at I-40, Flagstaff, Ariz.; I-85 at I-485 West in Charlotte, N.C.; I-35 at I-410 South in San Antonio, Texas.

Complete your own ranking of the 100 freight significant highway bottleneck locations and then see if you are a highway congestion knowledge pro by comparing it to ATRI’s list. It can be found, along with detailed information on each of the 100 monitored locations, at ATRI’s website.

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