Study lists nation’s worst bottlenecks

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Trucks idled for more than 243 million hours on bottlenecked U.S. highways in 2004, costing trucking companies $7.8 billion, according to a study prepared for the Federal Highway Administration. The study estimates a cost of $32.15 per hour of delay based on four major types of bottlenecks along freight corridors: interchanges, intersections with signals, steep grades and lane reductions.

The study was conducted by Cambridge Systematics in association with the Battelle Memorial Institute. According to the study, the Top 20 interchange bottlenecks for trucks are:

  • Interstate 90 at I-290 in Buffalo, N.Y., with 1,661,900 hours of delay in 2004
  • I-285 at I-85 (Spaghetti Junction) in Atlanta with 1,641,200 hours of delay
  • I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) at I-10 in Phoenix with 1,608,500 hours of delay
  • I-90/94 at I-290 (Circle Interchange) in Chicago with 1,544,900 hours of delay
  • The San Bernardino Freeway in Los Angeles with 1,522,800 hours of delay
  • I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway)/I-90 Skyway Split (Southside) in Chicago with 1,512,900 hours of delay
  • I-285 at I-75 in Atlanta with 1,497,300 hours of delay
  • State Route 134 at SR 2 in Los Angeles with 1,489,400 hours of delay
  • I-77 at Tryon Road in Charlotte, N.C., with 1,487,100 hours of delay
  • Long Beach Freeway in Los Angeles with 1,380,300 hours of delay
  • I-20 at I-285 in Atlanta with 1,359,400 hours of delay
  • I-80/I-94 Split (Southside) in Chicago with 1,343,600 hours of delay
  • SR 60 at I-605 in Los Angeles with 1,314,200 hours of delay
  • Pulaski Road at I-55 in Chicago with 1,300,400 hours of delay
  • I-75 at I-85 in Atlanta with 1,288,800 hours of delay
  • I-93 at I-95 in Boston with 1,280,800 hours of delay
  • I-290 at I-355 in Chicago with 1,246,200 hours of delay
  • I-405 (San Diego Freeway) at I-605 in Los Angeles with 1,245,500 hours of delay
  • I-80 at Central in San Francisco with 1,196,700 hours of delay
  • The San Gabriel River Freeway in Los Angeles with 1,194,300 hours of delay

    Bottlenecks account for 40 percent of vehicle delays, with the balance caused by construction work zones, crashes, breakdowns, bad weather and poor signal timing, the study reported.

    “All levels of government are failing to focus their resources on the efficient movement of goods,” says Greg Cohen, president and chief executive officer of the American Highway Users Alliance. “Yet the societal benefits of a national plan to fix the worst freight chokepoints would be astounding. Not only money, time and hundreds of millions of gallons in diesel fuel would be saved, but roads would be safer, and air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions would decrease dramatically.”

    Bottlenecks are “a significant national problem for trucking and the efficient operation of the national freight transportation system,” according to the report.

    “This should encourage all Americans to insist on highway projects that improve the mobility and reliability of freight,” says Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations. “Congress now has a roadmap to follow when making critical decisions about how to invest scarce transportation resources.”