Metro Atlanta's maddening intersection known to locals as "Spaghetti Junction" has won the dubious honor of being named the nation's most congested truck interchange in 2015, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the trucking industry nonprofit research group.
Officially known as the "Tom Moreland Interchange," after Georgia's transportation commissioner from 1975 to 1987, the stretch sits at the confluence of Interstates 85 and 285—the latter being metro Atlanta's perimeter—and also provides ramp access to four secondary roadways. It is a five-level stack interchange that is a slow-moving nightmare for truckers and motorists alike, especially starting at 2 p.m. or so on Wednesdays through Fridays, when big rigs begin to roll. During that time, the bottleneck at the interchange from eastbound I-285 to northbound I-85 heading toward Greenville, S.C. and points north is a sight to behold (providing one is not stuck in it).
According to ATRI, the average speed on the northbound span declines to 28 miles per hour at its peak period, which hits between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The traffic moves fastest between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon, and between 11 p.m. and midnight, according to ATRI data.
Ironically, Spaghetti Junction was designed to remove choke points and reduce congestion in the I-85 and I-285 interchange, which had been a cloverleaf.
Finishing second on ATRI's list was Chicago's Interstate I-290 at the junction of Interstates 90 and 94. That chokepoint also took top overall honors as the nation's most congested interchange based on hours of delay, according to a new study released today by the American Highway Users Alliance, a public-private sector group. The group said that drivers on I-90, which in Chicagoland is a 17.8-mile stretch known as the "Kennedy Expressway," face a zone of congestion that runs about 12 miles and is present during many hours of the day. Researchers define this zone as the stretch of I-90 where drivers have to slow down compared to the speeds they could be driving at.
Third on the trucking congestion list was Interstate 95 at state Route 4 in Fort Lee, N.J., adjacent to the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey with New York.
Of the seven remaining truck bottlenecks, four were in the Houston metropolitan area. The other three were in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Louisville, Ky.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that congestion costs the industry about $9.4 billion a year in additional costs and shipment delays, among other issues.