New Jersey Spot Again Leads ATRI’s Top Highway Bottlenecks

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A troublesome spot along I-95 once again topped the list of the nation’s worst chokepoints on the American Transportation Research Institute Top Truck Bottlenecks list, while the Atlanta metro area stood out as a gridlocked region by claiming six of the top 20 spots on the list.

For the fifth year in a row, I-95 and State Route 4 in Fort Lee, N.J. — just outside of New York City — topped the annual list. It has now ranked in the top 10 for more than 10 years.

However, truckers navigating in and around Atlanta are confronted with multiple congested roadways, including No. 4 on the list, the infamous “Spaghetti Junction” interchange at I-285 and I-85 in northern suburb of DeKalb County, as well as No. 5, along I-285 and I-20 in western Fulton County. These two locations owned the same spots on last year’s list.

The Fulton County area is home to a major UPS distribution center, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield/Jackson International Airport is an increasingly important air cargo hub.

The state of Georgia has hired a construction company for a planned $685 million rebuild of the Fulton County interchange.

“The Atlanta area is a big issue. Georgia is a big through state,” ATRI President and Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Brewster told Transport Topics. “We get all the traffic coming up from Florida. We get all that freight from the Port of Savannah. All of that freight comes through Atlanta on its way to other destinations around the country.”

Brewster notes that restrictions on truck traffic also affect the region. The Georgia Department of Public Safety directs trucks to I-285 — which rings the city’s perimeter — and restricts them from I-75/85 and I-20, which link to the downtown region.

The group collects GPS data from more than 1 million heavy-duty trucks to compile the bottlenecks data. The Feb. 8 report found that average peak hour truck speeds declined by 6.1% from 2022 to 36.3 mph. Brewster attributes this to an uptick in passenger car travel, as commuters return to the roads.

“More people are driving, especially during the middle of the week,” she said. “That means more traffic and more bottlenecks.”

ATRI has been compiling the list since 2002, and reviewed congestion at more than 300 truck-specific locations.

This year’s second-place spot — Chicago’s I-294/1-290/I-88 — didn’t even make the top 20 last year. This section of the Illinois Tollway Authority — near Elmhurst, west of Chicago — is in the midst of a multiyear, multibillion-dollar reconstruction project.

ATRI suggested the list can help inform how money from the federal $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is distributed.

“ATRI’s annual bottleneck list provides a clear road map to guide investment decisions as the nation capitalizes on the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act decisions to address the nation’s supply chain challenges,” the report said.

The third-place bottleneck — Houston’s I-45 and I-69/US 59 — is the subject of a state proposal for a $7.5 billion reroute and reconstruction plan centered on I-45. The Texas Department of Transportation approved the plan a year ago, but it faces opposition from community groups as it would require the demolition of more than 1,100 homes and apartments, 340 businesses and five houses of worship.

The project is stalled amid a Federal Highway Administration investigation as civil rights and environmental concerns have been raised. The state’s Harris County has sued the Texas DOT, and has asked a federal judge to require the agency to seek and provide greater consideration from the community.

Another Chicago interchange — I-290 and I-90/94 — for the second straight year claimed the list’s sixth spot. This stretch, known as the “Jane Byrne Interchange” after the former Chicago mayor, saw a yearslong, $806 million upgrade reach completion late last year.

Three of the four remaining top 10 positions are in the greater Los Angeles area, home to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

In seventh position is L.A.’s SR 60 and SR 57, a stretch that’s the focus of upgrade plans. In eighth is I-710 and I-105, the former of which is a major connecting highway between Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Nashville’s I-24/I-40 at I-440 East ranks ninth, a new addition to the top 10. Another Tennessee road, Chattanooga’s I-75 at I-24, shifted out of the top 10 after completion of a multiyear reconstruction project.

In 10th place, down one notch from 2022’s ninth, is San Bernardino’s I-10/I-15 interchange. The spot has seen huge growth in cargo shipments at nearby Ontario International Airport, where FedEx Corp. in 2020 completed a $100 million expansion.

The full report, including details about the top 100 locations, is available at

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