Traffic congestion is bad everywhere – but NJ has the worst!
If you ever wondered who had the worst traffic problems in the USA, New Jersey is the answer! Fort Lee (where I95 and Route 4 meet) was just rated as having the most congested stretch of road in the country.
“North Jersey commuters are as familiar with this bottleneck and its traffic jams as the sun rising up on a spring day,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., whose district includes Fort Lee.
What is causing the backups, you may wonder?
Aging infrastructure seems to be causing these issues as alternate routes are closed elsewhere in the area. “At the end of the day, we are in the Northeast and we are dealing with a very aging infrastructure,” said Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association. “We’re so old, our streets were built many, many years ago and we built right next to those roads. Expansion becomes almost impossible.”
Awaiting the finish of a multiyear effort to rehabilitate the George Washington Bridge and some of the access roads are keeping Fort Lee in a gridlock. This is one of the 3 access routes between Fort Lee and New York City. This billion dollar project has caused the daily traffic in 2016 estimated at 103 million vehicles a year to find a different route.
GPS data was collected for industry research from more than 1 million trucks at 300 locations during 2019 in a study by the American Transportation Research Institute that led to this year’s ranking. Speed data collected showed that traffic moved through the Fort Lee road at an average of 22.4 miles per hour during rush hour. Off-peak hours did not show much improvement only increasing to 32.4 mph.
One possible way to reduce congestion would be to get people out of their cars, but the problems plaguing NJ Transit means that commuters have no choice but to drive, Toth said. “There’s really no alternative that’s attractive enough to get people out of their cars,” Toth said. “Until they make it attractive enough, we’re not taking anybody of the road.”
There is a growing demand for truck deliveries in this area and having 1/3 of the access shut down is not helping the situation there.
“You have a tremendous population base that drives the need for consumer goods that are delivered by truck, and you have limited ways for trucks to get in and out of New York City,” said Rebecca Brewster, president of the institute.
New Jersey has one other roadway that made this year’s list. Coming in at 70th is a stretch of I-287 in Piscataway.
New Jersey is not the only state with congested roadways
Texas came in the top 100,(having over 303,176 miles of public roads, most in the nation as recorded in 2006), having 11 of the most congested intersection. New York had seven hotspots and Pennsylvania six according to the study results. The recently released report was called for in the midst of congressional efforts to write a new transportation bill. That bill is intended to replace current legislation expiring in September,2020.
“This report should sound the alarm for policymakers that the cost of doing nothing is too high and (we need to) provide a roadmap of where to target investments to really solve our nation’s mounting infrastructure crisis,” said Chris Spear, president and chief executive of the trucking trade group.
Where other cities ranked in study:
1. Fort Lee: I-95 and Route 4
2. Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
3. Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
4. Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
5. Atlanta: I-285 at I-75 (North)
6. Chicago: I-90/I-94 at I-290
7. Atlanta: I-20 at I-285 (West)
8. Cincinnati: I-71 at I-75
9. Los Angeles: Route 60 at Route 57
10. Los Angeles: I-710 at I-105