They are the highways to hell in the country’s most gridlocked cities. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine your ultimate morning nightmares. How did your commute rank?
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is America’s collective nightmare, and like the movie Groundhog Day it repeats on a daily basis.
Congestion consumes billions of gallons of fuel, wastes hundreds of billions of dollars in productivity and causes billions of stress headaches. Yet over 100 million automobile commuters each day feel like they have little option. “We put so much of our national wealth and our identity into the whole motoring thing,” says James Howard Kunstler, author of Geography of Nowhere, “that we can’t imagine doing something different.”
Anthony Downs, author of ‘Stuck in Traffic’ has identified four reasons for America’s congestion problem, also applicable to most European and Asian economies: first, most of us work during the same hours of the day; second, the country’s economic success has allowed households to buy multiple cars; third, there are more people now than when most roadways were conceived; fourth, more cars means more accidents which means more delays.
In other words, this problem isn’t going anywhere. So the Daily Beast set out to figure out the worst of the worst. The true Highways to Hell. It was a two-step process, done with data from traffic-tracking firm INRIX, which culls information nationwide from more than 1.5 million GPS units, mostly in freight trucks.
Our first step was ranking the metropolitan areas with the worst rush-hour congestion. The order is based on the peak hour Travel Time Index (TTI) for the metropolitan area each highway is in. TTI is a measure of how much longer it takes to complete a road journey during peak congestion hours compared to free-flow hours. (Peak hours are defined as 6 a.m. to 10a.m., and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) Speeds during non-peak hours are used by INRIX to establish this free-flow baseline.
After determining the 75 worst metro areas, we then found the worst highway in each, defined as the most hours of bottleneck congestion, as reported by INRIX. The rankings then provide a still deeper look