The American Transportation Research nInstitute has released its 2022 list of Top Truck Bottlenecks, with some particular areas continuing to see little improvement.
Traffic across the country has returned to similar levels as before the pandemic due to more people returning to in-person workdays, as well as e-commerce and the overall demand for goods growing exponentially. Throughout 2021, rush hour speed averages for trucks dropped 11%, down to 38.6 miles per hour.
“ATRI’s bottleneck list is a road map for federal and state administrators responsible for prioritizing infrastructure investments throughout the country,” said Chris Spear, President of American Trucking Associations. “Every year, ATRI’s list highlights the dire needs for modernizing and improving our roads and bridges.”
The bottleneck list is compiled by ATRI’s assessment of truck-involved congestion levels at 300 different locations throughout the country’s highways. To collect data, ATRI utilizes truck GPS data and insights from more than a million commercial vehicles.
“The annual study from [ATRI], based [on] real-time GPS data, provides a timeline and actionable blueprint for prioritizing road and bridge funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill,” explained ATA in a tweet.
Chicago’s I-290/I-90/I-94 interchange, named the Jane Byrne Interchange, made sixth place on the list for the second year in a row. By the end of 2022, the city plans to complete the interchange’s $800 million upgrade.
The top worst freight bottleneck in the United States, for the fourth year in a row, was deemed to be the intersection of New Jersey State Route 4 and Interstate 95 in Fort Lee, New Jersey–this bottleneck has ranked near the top of ATRI’s list for more than a decade. Average rush hour speeds in this bottleneck were 22.4 miles per hour, down from 2020 by 28.2%. Average overall speeds were just 30.1 miles per hour.
In second place was the I-71/I-75 intersection in downtown Cincinnati, located along the Ohio River, north of the Brent Spence Bridge. This major bottleneck comes after a late-2020 bridge fire brought a shutdown as engineers rushed to fix such a heavily-utilized area. The major checkpoint brought about by the damage caused transportation officials in Ohio and Kentucky to consider a nearby companion bridge project, which would help ease traffic issues close to the Amazon hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Following behind is Houston’s I-45/I-69/US-59 intersection, which is two spots higher than its place on 2021’s list. Interstate 45 was likely to undergo reconstruction and rerouting through a $7.5 billion proposal, which was approved by the Texas Department of Transportation in 2021. However, the project will require the demolition of 340 businesses, 1,100 homes and apartments, and five places of worship–so it has understandably been met with heavy opposition from various groups.
Fourth and fifth place were both taken by Atlanta bottlenecks–one at the “Spaghetti Junction” of the I-285/I-85 North interchange in DeKalb County, as well as the I-20/I-285 intersection on the west side of the city. Behind Chicago’s sixth-place ranking was Los Angeles’ California state Route 60 and State Route 57 interchange, dubbed the “Diamond Bar interchange,” and in eighth place was Texas’ I-45/I-30 interchange in Dallas.
I-30 in both directions from downtown Dallas to I-634 in the city’s Mesquite suburb will be modernized and widened through a $1 billion project likely beginning in 2026, according to officials at the Texas Department of Transportation.
In ninth and tenth place were San Bernandino’s I-10/I-15 interchange and Chattanooga’s I-75/I-24 intersection, respectively. Chattanooga’s bottleneck is currently in the midst of a $12.6 million upgrade, the second phase of which is set to begin in mid-2023.
“We have seen, most recently in Pittsburgh, that the cost of doing nothing could also cost lives,” said ATA’s Spear, referring to the 10 people in Pittsburgh who were injured during the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in late January. “It’s time to fund these projects and get our supply chains moving again.”