Fleet Management

Congestion Worsened at ATRI's Top Trucking Bottlenecks Locations

January 25, 2018

By Steven Martinez

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Atlanta's Spaghetti Junction topped ATRI's list of the worst truck bottlenecks for the third year in a row. Image via ATRI.
Atlanta's Spaghetti Junction topped ATRI's list of the worst truck bottlenecks for the third year in a row. Image via ATRI.

For the third straight year, the intersection of Interstates 285 and 85 in Atlanta, also known as Spaghetti Junction, topped the American Transportation Research Institute’s list of the most congested freight bottlenecks in the country.

ATRI’s 2018 Top Truck Bottleneck List tracks the 100 most congested sections of U.S. roads for the trucking industry. Data is analyzed from more than 800,000 GPS-equipped heavy-duty trucks, along with data from trucking operations, to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location.

Overall truck speeds worsened at the top five bottlenecks on the list, according to ATRI, which is the research arm of the American Trucking Associations. Truck speeds fell by an average of 6% at these locations.

One bright spot on the list was in Louisville, Kentucky, at the intersection of Interstates 65 and 71. The bottleneck dropped to the number 10 spot on the list and truck speeds increased by nearly 19% compared to previous years. The construction of a new bridge last year resulted in improved movement through the area.

The bottleneck in Chicago at the interstection of Interstates 290, 90, and 94 has also seen improvement due to investment in infrastructure. Also known as the Byrne Interchange, the bottleneck was perennially at the top of ATRI's list for bottlenecks until the city put funding into a redesign and rebuild, according to ATRI.

E-commerce and Truck Congestion

Major e-commerce players like Amazon are changing the way roads are used by creating hub-and-spoke style operations for their freight movement. This has shortened the distances that trucks have to travel with goods – but also increases the overall number of trucks making short- and medium-distance trips. 

“The ability to migrate our economy to e-commerce is going to be constrained by the inability of the trucks to respond as quickly as the retail consumers desire.”

“As e-commerce grows – and it’s growing dramatically, with one in five dollars going toward purchases online – the ability of the supply chain to react as quickly as the consumers desire is becoming very challenging,” said Dan Murray, ATRI vice president. “The ability to migrate our economy to e-commerce is going to be constrained by the inability of the trucks to respond as quickly as the retail consumers desire.”

Infrastructure investment has been a hot political topic and major issue for the transportation industry, and ATRI found that in general, our current roads and infrastructure are quite constrained.

"The safe and efficient movement of freight should be a top priority in any infrastructure package, and this report identifies the areas where investment is most needed,” said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO. “Finding long-term, sustainable funding – like our proposed Build America Fund – to address these needs is critical, and we urge Congress and the administration to quickly move forward on a plan to tackle this growing crisis."

The rest of the Top 10 includes:

  • Fort Lee, N.J.: I-95 at SR 4;
  • Chicago: I-290 at I-90/I-94;
  • Atlanta: I-75 at I-285 (North);
  • Los Angeles: SR 60 at SR 57;
  • Boston: I-95 at I-90;
  • Baltimore: I-695 at I-70;
  • Queens, N.Y.: I-495;
  • Cincinnati: I-71 at I-75 and
  • Louisville, Ky.: I-65 at I-64/I-71

For access to the full report, including detailed information on each of the 100 top congested locations, click here.

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