Transportation Group Hopes Annual List Guides Infrastructure Decisions

The American Transportation Research Institute’s annual list of the most congested areas for trucks offers decision makers information they can use to deal with problem spots on highways.

The American Transportation Research Institute recently released its annual list of the 100 worst bottlenecks for trucks nationwide—information that the organization hopes will guide decisions on infrastructure investment as well as help motor carriers and drivers.

ATRI analyzed GPS data from more than 600,000 heavy-duty trucks at 250 locations on the national highway system to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. “The information provided through this effort can empower decision-making in both the private and public sectors by allowing stakeholders to better understand the severity of congestion and mobility constraints on the U.S. highway transportation system,” the report says.

The 2017 Top 100 Truck Bottleneck List highlights problem areas where infrastructure upgrades are most needed. “Ensuring the safe and efficient movement of goods should be a national priority, and this report draws attention to the places where our highway network needs improvement in order to meet that goal,” said American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear in a statement.

The Trump administration reportedly has identified about 50 priority infrastructure projects, including highway upgrades. “Where infrastructure decisions are made, we hope empirical data is utilized,” said Rebecca Brewster, ATRI president and COO, during a press conference call.

The report also provides “mobility profiles” that allow transportation analysts and planners to look at changes in congestion over time—and to assess performance and the factors that cause congestion.

Motor carriers can use the information to direct truck drivers to avoid areas that are congested at certain times. The data collected include time, date, speed, and position, which gives each location a “time of day” profile. In some locations, congestion varies more between peak and nonpeak hours, and this helps motor carriers assess supply chain efficiency. The data also can help assess expectations for deliveries, Brewster said.

Just like last year, the number-one bottleneck on the list is Atlanta’s “spaghetti junction,” where Interstate Highways 285 and 85 North intersect. The next most congested locations are in Fort Lee, N.J.; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Cincinnati; and Los Angeles.

In addition, the report identifies the states that contain the most bottlenecks: Texas is in the lead, with 10 of the listed bottlenecks in Houston. Dan Murray, ATRI vice president, explained during the conference call that Houston is an “extremely industrial city,” where trucks mix with commuters in rush-hour traffic.

The list offers “a phenomenal targeting opportunity,” Murray said, adding that it has influenced decision-making in the past. In 2012, Illinois began the $500 million reconstruction of the Chicago Circle Interchange, which is expected to be completed by 2019. “They were tired of being on the ATRI list,” Murray said.

While passenger cars are not reflected in the data, they often get stuck in the same bottlenecks as trucks, according to ATRI. As the trucking industry’s nonprofit research organization, ATRI has been collecting and analyzing truck GPS data since 2002. The report supports the Federal Highway Administration’s Freight Performance Measures initiative.


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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