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Traffic Scorecard
June 17, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

The National Traffic Scorecard ranks the 100 most-congested metropolitan areas in the United States. Number one? Los Angeles, naturally.

Click the "View All" links to get the full lists and a nice map. Then you can click on individual areas to get an extended description, local map, and some nice statistics.
posted by backseatpilot (53 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's so many cars in LA that it is almost claustrophobic.
posted by The Power Nap at 1:26 PM on June 17, 2008


In your face Baton Rouge!
posted by drezdn at 1:29 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoah. This is put out by an outfit whose name is INRI, followed by the letter most like a cross? I guess those guys have been in some particularly excruciatingtraffic jams.
posted by gurple at 1:32 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


See now this is progress. Only a few years ago this post would have been most-congested metropolitan areas in the whole entire world.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is further proof that the Cross Bronx is the worst road in the country. Possibly the world. You could drive through there at midnight on a Tuesday and get stuck in a 3-mile, 5mph traffic jam.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:38 PM on June 17, 2008


Awesome job with the tagging, btw.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


How interesting. I live in Los Angeles, and when I left Chicago (and when I visit Chicago) I am always amazed at how much worse the traffic is there than in Los Angeles.

Then again, I mostly drive in the San Fernando Valley, and I know traffic is better here than the basin and Orange County.
posted by davejay at 1:42 PM on June 17, 2008


Zowee. The Cross Bronx accounts for four out of the top five. I knew there was a reason I avoided that road like the plague.

And yet, despite this, L.A. is still number one?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:43 PM on June 17, 2008


I call BS. My one Friday afternoon rush-hour experience in Raleigh, NC was way worse than anything I've seen in seven years of LA driving.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2008


posted by gurple Whoah. This is put out by an outfit whose name is INRI, followed by the letter most like a cross? I guess those guys have been in some particularly excruciatingtraffic jams.

Indeed. The Via Dolorosa highway out of Jerusalem was an absolute bitch because some dude kept breaking down all the way to Golgotha.
posted by optovox at 1:50 PM on June 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm flabbergasted that Boston's Southeast Expressway doesn't even crack the top 100.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2008


Oh, my little hometown is #100! You've made it to the big time, baby! I'm so proud! Too bad about your horrible horrible air quality, though.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:52 PM on June 17, 2008


traffic envy.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:53 PM on June 17, 2008


Metro DC is pretty nightmarish. I can't believe it's only fourth.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


#9! Nice. I'd like to thank geographical circumstance and legislative incompetence.
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on June 17, 2008


I've hit bad traffic in L.A. on occasion, but the worst traffic I've ever hit on a routine basis are in and out of Chicago, and in and out of Manhattan, so lists like this make me wonder.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:04 PM on June 17, 2008


This list is obviously compiled from some list of bullshit statistics that someone thought up. Having lived and driven in many of those cities, I can safely say that Seattle is by far worse than San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Dallas and Houston and NYC.

Why? Because in those other cities you have options.

Options as in you can get there in some way other than driving; maybe take the subway or hop on a bus. Options as in you can take an alternate fucking route; maybe a surface street or alternate highway. These options do not exist in Seattle. In Seattle, if you're at point A, and point B is too far to walk, and you can see or remember seeing the sun recently, you're totally screwed.

I would put Boston second behind Seattle, but I haven't been there since the Big Dig opened, so maybe it's further down the list these days. Also, I haven't driven in Dallas or Houston in 7 and 5 years respectively, so maybe they're getting as bad as Seattle. But what I can recall of the geography makes me think not.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why oh why are the lists huge images?
posted by mkb at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2008


I'm from #8, but now live in #68. I always get a chuckle of the people here who complain about the traffic.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2008


Woo Portland! We're 21!
posted by Caduceus at 2:26 PM on June 17, 2008


I'm a Los Angeles resident with a daily round-trip commute of 40 miles. Worst traffic I've ever been in? Dublin, Ireland, during rush hour. L.A. doesn't hold a candle.
posted by chuq at 2:28 PM on June 17, 2008


Yeah, figures that KC is congested. Although apparently the former Triangle isn't that notorious using their criteria.

If you wanna get supertechnical about it. The top KC congested area is 29/35-Independence Ave, not 29/Independence Ave.
posted by RobbieFal at 2:29 PM on June 17, 2008


#83! My little city is still not as growed up as it would like to be. I always laugh at the way local news stations try to play up the big-citiness of Mudville. You'll often see things like

I-80E from I-680 to I-480: 3min.

And that ~5 mile jaunt is described as "heavy volume traffic pressure in the meto area." Seriously. Makes me want to pay for a field trip so the news drones can personally witness the soul sucking hell that is any one of the "expressways" in Chicago.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:38 PM on June 17, 2008


I can safely say that Seattle is by far worse than [...] LA, [...]

Why? Because in those other cities you have options.


I have a (rush hour traffic) 2.5 hour one-way commute across LA
. There are no options besides driving available, at all. There is commuter rail for half the distance, metro rail for about half the distance in the wrong direction, no subway, and the bus system would take 5 hours and get you killed.
posted by felix at 2:39 PM on June 17, 2008


Woo Portland! We're 21!

We couldn't have done it without the Couve. Vancouver, WA: like Canada, except not.

Also, those jerks on the city council are going to build a new I-5 bridge and totally fuck up our standings.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on June 17, 2008


I moved to DC from Atlanta. Perhaps my memory has faded a bit, but I remember Atlanta traffic being way worse than DC's. Maybe it's just the routes I drive.

The thing that continually bugs me is how many, many of the traffic jams are for just no good reason. I mean, sure, if there's an accident or something, or even if it's due to sheer volume, I can understand. But one of the bottlenecks listed in DC is just...senseless. I'm talking about the Beltway/270 interchange, in any direction--there are plenty of lanes for everyone, but most folks decide they need to merge RIGHT NOW, and put on the brakes and try to squeeze in RIGHT NOW, instead of using all the lanes, taking the entire acceleration lane to get up to speed, etc. The folks coming off 270 southbound have to get over to the right RIGHT NOW, and they intersect with the folks coming from the Beltway, who, of course, have to get over to the left RIGHT NOW, thus just trading places, ending up going to same damned direction. Insane.

The split in the other direction is no better. As soon as people see the signs indicating the split, they must, you got it, get over RIGHT NOW. Nevermind that the signs are a mile early. No, no! This is a panic situation!

The other is is how a curve and a dip in a highway is, apparently, completely confounding to so many drivers. Amirite? You come around a curve, going interstate speed. There's a long dip, a downhill followed immediately by an uphill grade. You suddenly see all those cars ahead of you, and AHHHH!!! PUT ON THE BRAKES! There are other cars on the road! Thus setting up a standing wave that lasts all day.

Whew. Sorry. This is why I paid $350 a square foot to live within walking distance of work.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:42 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


My job is traffic operations. That's what I do, all day long. oh sweet jesus please save me. I just emailed the link to the scorecard to several of my co-workers, with the heading "This is how they do it up north."

Our metro area is nowhere to be found on the top 100. Nowhere.

Most of my constitutents are retirees from the midwest. They have this hazy remembrance of traffic being better where they came from. They are always calling in with "helpful" suggestions. Now I finally have some ammo!!

"Ah, you're from Cleveland, you say? Hmm...let me check. 36th most gridlocked city in the nation. Sorry, FAIL! Buh-bye!"
posted by contessa at 2:52 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, I sure would love to see those maps Googlified. The problem of viewing maps online has been solved. There is so much data there, and it is so opaque. Sure, I've been stuck in traffic on the Cross Bronx Parkway, but to be able to zoom in and see the hots spots would be so much more informative.

Wait! Never mind! I just checked Google Maps, and traffic view has a new option, not just live traffic, but "traffic at day and time."
Wow, Google, I am once again astounded.
posted by bitslayer at 2:53 PM on June 17, 2008


MrMoonPie: I'm glad I'm not the only person who noticed that. It was one of the strangest things when I moved down from Boston to DC; Boston's traffic is bad, but there's typically an identifiable reason for it. Here ... the whole concept of merging just seems to be a lost cause. My personal favorite is people who drive up a lane, ignoring all the "LANE ENDS 1000/500/200 FEET" signs, then come to a complete stop, throw on their signal, and cut abruptly into the next lane of traffic. I'd write it off as a fluke except I see it every day, and I've never seen it that regularly in any other metro area.

Also, I've been getting rear-ended at a rate of about once per year down here (most frequently while stopped at lights, by people just not paying attention and plowing into me; although once was on I66, by a woman who just rolled into me and then never got off her cell phone even afterwards). I'd never had that happen before, but it's apparently par for the course.

I wonder what DC's traffic rating would be if you took some of the behavioral problems out of the equation. It seems like some traffic problems you can chalk up to insufficient road capacity, but some are either caused or at least very definitely exacerbated by bizarre driving habits. Once one person does something dumb and creates a stopped patch of traffic, it takes hours to dissapate.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:18 PM on June 17, 2008


This is further proof that the Cross Bronx is the worst road in the country. Possibly the world.

Meh. Trying driving in Bangkok. I once got stuck in a traffic jam on a major artery at four in the freaking morning. On a particularly bad day it took me over four hours to get home from work. I could have walked faster, but it was raining.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:21 PM on June 17, 2008


This is a fine post. It's impressive to see what people can do with modern web interfaces and statistics.

It's similar to the hotpads real estate stats and maps mashup post.

Is there a name for these types of things?

AJAX-stats-mashups?
Statopages?
posted by sien at 3:39 PM on June 17, 2008


This is further proof that the Cross Bronx is the worst road in the country. Possibly the world. You could drive through there at midnight on a Tuesday and get stuck in a 3-mile, 5mph traffic jam.

It's sad to say, but this isn't even CLOSE to being an exaggeration. I moved away from the Bronx (and the Northeast) years ago and thus don't get the pleasure of driving on the Cross Bronx very often anymore, but inexplicable traffic jams at hours where there is just no logical reason for there to be that many cars on the road are the norm, not the exception there. The City that never sleeps, indeed. Of course, there's always the Bruckner Expressway, which, as far as I can tell, has been undergoing major repairs & construction for about 30 years now.

Surface streets are definitely the way to go in the Bronx - Pelham Parkway/Fordham Road was the combination I most commonly used to avoid the Cross Bronx on east-west trips, although I would occasionally use Tremont, depending on where I was going.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:46 PM on June 17, 2008


I have a (rush hour traffic) 2.5 hour one-way commute across LA. There are no options besides driving available, at all.

Ahem. "Options as in you can take an alternate fucking route; maybe a surface street or alternate highway."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:48 PM on June 17, 2008


All of those Hollywood Fwy interchanges listed in the top 100 bottlenecks are one after another. Vermont, Silver Lake Blvd, Melrose/Normandie, Santa Monica, Sunset, bam, bam, bam; all are within a 2-mile stretch. Oddly, Temple/Beverly runs along that same stretch and stays relatively fast. Also, I was surprised to not find the 101/110 interchange listed—it's the scariest stretch of road I've ever driven. Everyone moving west from East LA wants to go right across 6 lanes of traffic to exit downtown, and everyone going south from the 101 to the 110 wants to go left across those same 6 lanes. It all goes down in 200 yards and, unless it's rush hour, 70mph.
posted by carsonb at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Options as in you can take an alternate fucking route;

Yeah, that's the one nice thing about LA; if you're in a jam and can make it to a freeway exit you can always bust out the Thomas Guide and hit the surface streets.
posted by carsonb at 4:07 PM on June 17, 2008


Ha! Moving within walking distance to my office was the best thing that I've done in my life. I've gone from waiting an hour each way to get past the Squirrel Hill Tunnel to a fifteen minute walk down the hill. No amount of Prozac in the world could have made a bigger difference to my general mood.
posted by octothorpe at 4:10 PM on June 17, 2008


Oy, having grown up in LA, recently living in the Bay Area, and currently driving through the Bronx every day, I'm one trip away to Chicago from killing myself.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 4:28 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Trying driving in Bangkok.

Or Rome... or London.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:30 PM on June 17, 2008


" ignoring all the "LANE ENDS 1000/500/200 FEET" signs, then come to a complete stop, throw on their signal, and cut abruptly into the next lane of traffic."

People do this because they're self centered assholes that think *they* need to cut in front of everyone else.

I've seen police departments set up traps and pull over people that are doing this.
posted by drstein at 4:30 PM on June 17, 2008


No love for the zipper merge?
posted by Dave Faris at 5:14 PM on June 17, 2008


I wonder if this took the 35W bridge traffic into account for the Twin Cities. Traffic sucks here.

Also, this sure looks like a "big cities are congested" list, which seems too obvious to be useful. How about a comparison showing which cities are better or worse than their population would suggest?
posted by norm at 7:28 PM on June 17, 2008


I wonder if this took the 35W bridge traffic into account for the Twin Cities. Traffic sucks here.

Twin Cities is bad for several reasons:

--Bad design. Some of this is being fixed now: the 35W/MN 62 ridiculousness, the 694/35E weirdness. I used to have a weird fondness for how you could get lost in the 694/35E interchange late at night, and not realize you were going in the wrong direction until you saw a sign that said something like "Duluth 175".

--More bad design. 694 is still a mess, even more so since it's explicitly signed to be a bypass for long-distance drivers (say, Chicago to North Dakota) who want to avoid the downtowns. Just give us one freaking lane straight through from Woodbury to Brooklyn Center that won't peel off onto a surface street. The current construction won't solve 694/Snelling, for example.

--Even more bad design. Left entrances? Left exits? Who the hell thought up those? We've got so many we'll never get them all fixed in our lifetime. Entrances and exits way too close to each other (Lexington and Snelling on 94) or cloverleafs built for Model-Ts to putt around on (MN 36 and Cleveland, or any of the original ones on 100 or 280 before they got worked on).

--You can't get there from here. Southbound 35W to east 94? Eastbound 94 to 35E? Hello, side streets and stoplights. Which brings me to:

--Rampant NIMBYism. Somebody needs to get elected governor, crack some heads, and re-sign 35E to a normal speed instead of 45 mph. Connect Ayd Mill Road to 94 as a connector. Take the neighborhood whinebags who complain and lock 'em up in an asylum. While you're at it, get the stray stoplights off of 36 and 280 and 169 and make 'em normal freeways. And sign Hiawatha at 55 mph all the way from the airport to the dome--that's the speed everyone drives anyway. (And also while you're at it, get rid of the ohso precious Midtown Greenway bike path and put a light rail line there.)

It's a freeway thread--whadya expect?
posted by gimonca at 8:29 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


To be fair, Felix - you're driving close to 30 miles one way across about 5 large cities and past 3 major interchanges, and part of your trek us up through side-streets in Century City probably accounts for at least 0.5 of your 2.5 hours. What a crappy commute. You must love your job.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:20 PM on June 17, 2008


I changed my work schedule to 11-8, and it changed my daily DC commute around the beltway from a 1 hour teeth grinder to a 20 minute breeze. I will never work the 9-6 shift again if i can avoid it.
posted by empath at 9:31 PM on June 17, 2008


OK, so the most bottlenecked places are in NYC, LA, Chicago, LA, NYC, DC, LA, etc . . . Hawaii?! (#41 & #87)

Where do people GO in Hawaii?!
posted by not_on_display at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2008


No amount of Prozac in the world could have made a bigger difference to my general mood.

Well, besides moving out of Pittsburgh :)
Kidding! I love the 'burgh!
posted by inigo2 at 7:32 AM on June 18, 2008


I'm flabbergasted that Boston's Southeast Expressway doesn't even crack the top 100.

Ditto.

Boston makes #8 on the overall list, but doesn't place even its single worst bottleneck on the Top 100 Bottlenecks? I guess that just means that all of our roadways have a higher level of overall suckitude, but no one single outstanding clusterfuck.

We *LOVE* to complain about the driving here, but I think we're going to have to STFU about it for a while and let the Angelinos and New Yorkers crow a bit. Oh, and GO CELTICS!
posted by briank at 7:56 AM on June 18, 2008


I wonder how much this takes into account the poor saps who commute long distance through multiple metro areas: there are a sizeable number of people who live in #100 and go through #63 and #6 to work in #20. Cheap housing and high wages beat livability, I guess.

Where do people GO in Hawaii?!

Honolulu is a rather spread-out city, but it's spread out along one side of a mountainous island, so it's a perfect example of how the paucity of alternate routes will lead to traffic clogs.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:00 AM on June 18, 2008


Felix, I wonder if switching to Venice Blvd - San Vicente - Olympic after downtown would save you from the hell of the 10 in the second half of your commute?
posted by thedaniel at 12:47 PM on June 18, 2008


This is further proof that the Cross Bronx is the worst road in the country. Possibly the world. You could drive through there at midnight on a Tuesday and get stuck in a 3-mile, 5mph traffic jam.

I really don't want to drive on it again until they've actually painted lane markings.
posted by oaf at 1:55 PM on June 18, 2008


Why does LA get the top spot if all the most congested spots are in New York or New Jersey? It seems a little incongruous.
posted by tehloki at 12:34 AM on June 19, 2008


Sorry, that should read: ". . . if all of the top 10 most congested spots . . ."
posted by tehloki at 12:35 AM on June 19, 2008


Sum of the parts, likely. LA has a whole dang lot of bad intersections?

Like I said upthread, if you took out the I-5 bridge then Portland would probably disappear from the list instead of being in the top quarter. The Portland/Vancouver interchange is an awful bear, every day, and I'm glad I don't have to drive it, but it (and a few other bad stretches) are pretty self-contained bottlenecks. Bad spots, but not nearly so many of them; LA is like an overachiever in that respect, I guess.
posted by cortex at 6:48 AM on June 19, 2008


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