As Congressional debate continues on long-overdue highway legislation needed to fund road and bridge improvement projects, a new report by the American Highway Users Alliance is adding urgency by ranking the nationês worst highway bottlenecks, including two on the Capital Beltway in Maryland.
The report, released last week, entitled Unclogging Americaês Arteries: Effective Relief for Highway Bottlenecks (1999-2004), ranks the I-270/I-495 interchange as Americaês 7th worst traffic bottleneck blaming the site for more than 19 million hours of delay each year.
The other Washington-area bottleneck in the Top 20 is the I-95/I-495 interchange in Maryland, ranked #15 in the country. While the notorious Mixing Bowl Springfield interchange in Virginia has fallen off the rankings thanks to ongoing reconstruction at that site, Washingtonês two top bottlenecks were also ranked in the original 1999 report.
Besides identifying the worst bottlenecks in the DC area, the study finds that making modest improvements to bring traffic flow to minimum acceptable levels at these sites would yield tremendous benefits, despite factoring in additional delays during reconstruction and annual traffic growth projected by the Maryland transportation department. In the case of the I-270/I-495 interchange, improvements over the 20-year useful life of the project would mean:
à 5,942 fewer crashes (including 24 fewer fatalities and 2,918 fewer injuries)
à Reductions in emissions of carbon monoxide by 63 percent, smog-causing volatile organic compounds by 59 percent and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) by 82 percent
à Fuel savings of more than 619.8 million gallons
à More than 50 minutes in time savings per round-trip for the average commuter.
The entire study can be seen on www.highways.org.Download Bulletin PDF