One in 10 of the Worst Truck Bottlenecks Nationwide are in Houston
Houston has long been lauded as one of the country’s worst cities to drive in, in part due to the never-ending traffic. New data from the American Transportation Research Institute shows that part of the problem is that Houston is one of the most bottlenecked cities in the country, accounting for one in ten truck bottlenecks.
What are the Dangers of Highway Bottlenecks?
Highway bottlenecks are stretches of road that experience recurring congestion. Road congestion occurs when the roads carry more occupants than they are capable of transporting, causing the road capacity to be at its limit. There are a number of factors that can cause or contribute to bottlenecks, including high levels of traffic, long commute times, narrow roadways, construction, inclement weather, and special events. Additionally, highway design factors such as ramps, merging lanes, and areas with reduced visibility can contribute to congestion.
Research done by the Federal Highway Administration and the US Department of Transportation estimates that the hours of delay per traveler caused by road bottlenecks have more than doubled since 1982.
Unfortunately, the effects of traffic congestion and road bottlenecks can be more than just inconvenience. In addition to lost time and productivity, congestion causes supply-chain delays, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and frustrates drivers, which could lead to dangerous driving behaviors.
Truck Bottlenecks: A Study
The American Transportation Research Institute, a nonprofit that analyzes transportation data and freight trends and works with states’ transportation departments, created this report using data from over one million trucks’ onboard communications systems. Then, they used the trucks’ GPS data to analyze drive times, dates, and speeds to calculate a congestion index, and analyzed a list of over 300 freight-significant highway locations. Upon finding the areas’ “total freight congestion value,” they then compiled a list of the top 100 truck bottlenecks nationwide.
Where Texas and Houston Rank
Of this top 100, Texas had more truck bottlenecks than any other state. Of the 100 bottlenecks on the list, 14 were in the Lone Star State alone. The next closest states were Georgia and Tennessee, with nine bottlenecks each, followed by California with 8. Washington rounded out the top five states, with 7 bottlenecks.
The majority of Texas’ 14 truck bottlenecks were found to be in the city of Houston, with ten entries on the list for the city of Houston alone. To compare, the next most bottlenecked city nationwide was Atlanta, with 8 truck bottlenecks on the top 100 list. The next most congested city in Texas was Dallas, with two entries on the list.
Houston’s Truck Bottlenecks
Houston’s highest-ranking bottleneck came in at number three on the list: I-45 at I-69/US 59. Following that was #13 (I-10 at I-45), #15 (I-45 at I-610 North), #30 (I-10 at I-610 West), #34 (I-610 at US 290), #41 (I-10 at I-610 East), #65 (I-610 at I-69/US 59 West), #68 (I-45 at Sam Houston Tollway North), #93 (I-10 at I-69/US 59), and #98 (I-45 at I-610 South).
Six of the ten Houston hotspots were along or near the 610 loop. Interstate 610, a freeway loop running 42 miles around Houston’s inner city, is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the city due to congestion, frequent construction, and intersection with many other major highways, including Interstate 10, US Highway 290, US Highway 59/69, Interstate 45, and State Highway 288.
Additionally, half of the ten Houston truck bottlenecks (as well as one of the Dallas’) were along or near Interstate 45, highlighting one of Houston’s most dangerous freeways. According to Raquelle Lewis, a spokesperson for TxDOT’s Houston district, I-45’s recurring presence on the list “punctuates the… need to reconstruct I-45 to enhance mobility, safety and resiliency as our state continues to see robust population growth and freight traffic.”
However, the I-45 expansion project, set to cost an estimated 7 billion dollars, has been hotly debated by Houstonian officials and citizens alike. While safety advocates support the idea of expanding I-45, critics of the expansion project argue that it will displace many longstanding residents and local businesses. The project has been paused via federal order as city officials work with community representatives to find compromise.
Steps Towards a Solution
Unfortunately, road bottlenecks are a costly problem for the government and its citizens alike. Researchers estimate that alleviating even just the top 30 of the nation’s bottlenecks would annually save Americans 91 million hours, conserve drivers 35 million gallons of fuel wasted idling in traffic, prevent 740 million pounds of CO₂ emissions, and prevent 9,800 car and truck accidents.
The current administration addressed this issue as well as other ongoing supply-chain issues in the recently passed Infrastructure Bill. The bill aims to combat the nation’s myriad of infrastructure and transportation issues, allotting $110 billion dollars for roads, bridges, and freeways and considering research for low-cost methods of reducing the nation’s congestion at bottlenecks (Section 21204). In the meantime, however, Houstonians will continue to spend a considerable amount of time idling on the city’s roads.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact The Callahan Law Firm today. Our Houston Truck Accident Lawyers have been successfully representing injured people and their families for over 25 years, and we can help you too. Give us a call at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.
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