- The intersection of Interstate 95 and state Route 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey topped The American Transportation Research Institute's (ATRI) annual list of top trucking bottlenecks. Atlanta has three locations in the top 10 — the second, third and ninth spots — and Los Angeles had two.
- Year-over-year truck speeds dropped by an average of about 9% in the top 10 bottleneck locations, an indicator of increased congestion on busy freight roadways, ATRI said.
- "ATRI’s analysis shows us where the worst pain points are—but they are far from the only ones," American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement.
The trucking industry experienced almost 1.2 billion hours of delay in 2016 because of traffic congestion on the National Highway System, according to a 2018 report from ATRI. "This delay is the equivalent of 425,533 commercial truck drivers, sitting idle for an entire working year…it is estimated that the additional operational costs incurred by the trucking industry due to traffic congestion were $74.5 billion," the report said.
The cost to shippers and carriers can be staggering. "For UPS, if all of our vehicles are delayed just five minutes a day, every day, it costs our company $114 million a year. In order to combat congestion, many companies must plan operational redundancies to meet their customer needs," Rich McArdle, president of UPS Freight, said in a statement. “Using data like ATRI’s bottleneck report can help both companies and elected officials to make more informed decisions.”
USDOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines a truck bottleneck as a combination of three features: the type of constraint, the type of roadway, and the type of freight route. A truck bottleneck may be caused by congestion at an interchange on a freeway serving as an intercity truck corridor, or a truck bottleneck may be caused by poorly timed traffic signals at intersections on an arterial road that serves as an urban truck corridor.
Fixing this issue isn't easy for the governments that control the roadways. But FHWA offers a few possible remedies:
- Use a short section of the traffic-bearing shoulder as a peak-hour lane.
- Meter or close entrance ramps.
- Improve traffic signal timing on arterial roads.
- Provide traffic diversion information.
- Implement "zippering," self- or policed metering that promotes fair and smooth merges at points of traffic confluence.
The old adage, it takes money to make money, would seem to be in play here. By investing in infrastructure and other highway improvements, bottlenecks could be eased, if not ever eliminated.
ATA’s Spear testified Wednesday before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about the need for improved funding for interstate and highway infrastructure. "Trucking now loses $74.5 billion sitting in gridlock. That equates to 1.2 billion lost hours or 425,000 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year," he said, according to a release.