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BrandonTO416

Cities /w Worst Traffic Flow

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How bad is traffic flow in your city? I rank Nashville's traffic flow as absolutely one of the worst in the entire nation. For such of an automobile-oriented city, there is a very congested, undersized roadway system. Its not necessarily undersized in lanes - it is undersized in interchange and ramp quality. Construction itself is causing massive jams in the entire city.

Another problem is the system design itself. Here are two maps for you to ponder, and I'll discuss below:

centralnashville1.gif

centralnashville2.gif

Okay, these two maps show two views of central Nashville, the second zoomed into the immediate center city region.

One thing is obvious and easy to note - even for the noice map reader. All major streets - ALL OF THEM - do not have a clear pathway east/west and north/south. The major routes - in yellow - all converge like spider legs radiating almost entirely from a few blocks within downtown. In Nashville - the Interstate system is an absolute must to use. There are no alternative routes. None.

Secondly, the problem with interchanges and lane switching is very much a problem. The Interstates themselves don't have an absolute clear pathway through the city. Every single one of the Interstates converge on the downtown loop - 65, 24, and 40. Here's a genious idea: the Interstates squeeze from 10 lanes on 65/24 north to 8 and 6 lanes downtown. I-40 also squeezes from 8 lanes to 6 lanes in the immediate downtown area.

Considering this is the *only* throughfares through the town - these 1950 designed systems should have been updated in the 1980's.

Instead of doing it right - TDOT created and constructed I-440 in the 1980's. I-440 was a southern By-Pass - only 4 lanes in sections - that was meant to be a direct east-west route through the city. That has somewhat fixed the traffic flow east and west, as you can read the TDOT Smartway electronic signs for where traffic is bad and switch to the route which is less travelled.

However, it didn't fix the north-south problem, and 440 still converges back with 40 on both ends - causing rush hour jams.

To end this horror, Nashville's Interstate system is under such non-stop reconstruction that traffic flow is horrendously slow. At present - I-65 north is shut down to 6 *very* narrow lanes with zero shoulders between dividers while they expand it to 10 lanes for a solid 8 miles. Think that's a big project? Just wait until you hear the rest: Briley Parkway/i-40 west (TN-155 on the map) is undergoing a huge interchange flyover ramp reconstruction. TN-155/Briley parkway and I-40 east is ALSO undergoing reconstruction. Briley Parkway/TN155 east itself is being reconstructed to 8 lanes. This is part of fixing the old 1950 system where it is squeezed down from being 8 wide lanes with ample shoulders on both sides eastward beyond TN-155.

Think we're done? Not even close. I-40 is being reconstructed from Tn-155 east interchange to 8 lanes all the way to the 40/440/24 mega-double-interchange.

Virtually every major thoroughfare has a major project going on at all times - and with no alternative streets to travel on - traffic is just stalled for hours on end in the morning and evening rush hours every day.

Any other cities undergoing some major headaches?

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Detroit has a good system of arterial roads as well as freeways, so traffic generally moves fairly well. Of course some days are worse than others, like the day it took me an hour and a half to get downtown.

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I don't think Nashville's system is *the* worst in the nation, its just that poorly planned construction projects combined with poor interchange designs on a system that requires you to hop-and-switch so many times just to pass through town causes massive rush hour backups.

They desperately need to rebuild the downtown loop, formerly known as 265, to where it is no less then 8 lanes the entire route and with enhanced entrance/exit ramps that are longer and don't merge immediately with traffic the best possible.

Just the fact that so many interchanges try and squeeze 2 or 3 lanes of traffic into one lane doesn't help traffic flow.

10 lane interstates won't help anything unless they fix the downtown interchanges and some of the ramp systems.

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What do you mean there are no alternative routes? For the North Side, Gallatin and Dickerson Roads come to mind. Gallatin runs from well, Gallatin to Dowtown Nashville and Dickerson Runs from Greenbrier to downtown Nashville. If you add that Ellington Pkwy and Briley Pkwy have exits for these arteries you have 2 very good alterative routes to I-65 and I-24.

I-440 is a mess and I think that an expanded Briley/Ellington Pkwy should have been the interstate option instead of it.

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Gallatin Pike is certainly an alternative - albeit a slow one - to get from Hendersonville to Downtown Nashville. Ellington Parkway is a great choice to get from the Goodlettsville area to downtown.

My point is getting through the entire city. There is no clear route through the city - every major thru street connects downtown where there isn't capacity nor wide enough streets to handle the traffic.

The situation really is worse going east/west then north/south in my experiences.

Nashville's biggest problem right now is interchange design and poorly planned construction. They would be better off to focus all their efforts onto one major project at a time and getting it done then to have 3 major projects clogging every major artery in the city at the same time and dragging it out.

With that said, many cities have worse problems - Chicago's rush hour is horrific on the roadways. Far worse then Nashville.

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In Spartanburg, there is only one way to get from one side of town to the other from east to west. From north to south there are two roads, but they are almost parallel to each other. Spartanburg's major problem is the lack of a ring road of any sort (not necessarily an interstate) to allow for smooth circulation around the city. Spartanburg lacks major arteries, and the ones that are there are pretty congested most of the time. I've noteced it get worse and worse even since I've been driving (which has been less than 5 years). And if you want to go from North Spartanburg to the Westside of from the Eastside/Hillcrest to the Southside you can pretty much forget getting there in a direct manner. The most direct ways are ususally the fastest ways, but you really have to know the streets and not be afraid to go through some really rough neighborhoods. <-- and because of this, most people stick with the main roads.

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Austin, Texas has the worst traffic of any of the Top 10 Fastest growing cities in the nation. I-35 is the worst, with six lanes in all other parts, eight lanes through downtown including the dangerously narrow upper/lower deck split going past Universtiy of Texas campus, and short, dangerous ramps. Loop 1 "Mopac" is no better either, also with six lanes, and north of downtown, has RR tracks smack in the middle and transmission towers too close to the northbound lanes.

There are no east-west freeways for ten miles straight between the two expressways mentioned. US 290 in South Austin and US 183 in North Austin run east-west (except 183, really north-south running diagonally NW/SE). Loop 360 and US 183 running along Austin's edges are expected to be converted into freeways in the near future. All others, except 35, will have toll road lanes in the future as well. Oh, another thing, 290 and 183 used to be highways a long time ago before rapid growth in Austin took effect. Both highways were freeway-converted in the mid-1990s.

US 290 in South Austin runs as a freeway, but right before you could get on I-35, the freeway dives in as a highway, making it the worst interchange in the city, having to sit through all them traffic lights around it. Fortunately, construction is going on right now to upgrade it to a freeway to it with flyovers built.

East-west street traffic is even worse. These streets are narrow, 4 lanes with no center or shoulder, 2 lanes on some streets, making them dangerously narrow for this heavy traffic. Chances of widening these streets were unsucessful after neighbors made outcries against the city of Austin. So the only east-west route GOOD for traveling runs just north of the capital building. But Austin does have a whole lot of backroads - the good ones run north-south and are not as choked up unless there is construction going on.

www.mapquest.com Type in Austin, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Another good link about this traffic mess is: www.texasfreeway.com/Austin/austin.shtml

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I think what Nashville needs--or needed since it's too late to build--was probably an interstate loop with a radius of 8-10 miles from downtown. The outer loop I think is probably too far out to really do too much for commuter congestion, although it might make a shortcut from Memphis to Knoxville or Chattanooga and reduce a lot of that truck traffic.

One thing I also noticed about Nashville when I lived there was it seemed to lack a really good non-freeway arterial system.

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I think what Nashville needs--or needed since it's too late to build--was probably an interstate loop with a radius of 8-10 miles from downtown.  The outer loop I think is probably too far out to really do too much for commuter congestion, although it might make a shortcut from Memphis to Knoxville or Chattanooga and reduce a lot of that truck traffic.

One thing I also noticed about Nashville when I lived there was it seemed to lack a really good non-freeway arterial system.

Nashville already has a northern outer loop - Briley Parkway/TN-155 is being reconstructed east of the city and is no less then 8 lanes wide when complete between I-65 and I-40 east. The problem is the scant development in and around Briley Parkway, its extremely rural in northwest parts because of the terrain and in the Opryland area its poorly designed. Opry Mills is the only asset in that area - and its just a tacky mall. The housing is just here and there, no shopping except the mall. Just isn't a desirable area to live in my opinion.

Then there's the problem with the river splitting up the districts. The land in and around the Opryland/Opry Mills area is segregated from everything else because of the river.

What is sad is that could be turned into an asset, instead of being an inconvenience, if they would plan the city right. However in Nashville's case it is too little, too late. You can't just undo 50 years of mistakes, it takes too long and life is only so short.

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The Briley Parkway needed to be built as a complete loop, going around the southern edge of town also. It doesn't look like it would do much good for commuters from the north side of town heading down to Franklin or Smyrna. They'd have to get off at I-40, head back into town and then go south.

If the Parkway had continued south past I-40, then angled southwest and ultimately northwest back up to I-40, it probably would have taken much of the congestion off the inner loop downtown. Of course, it would have plowed through much of the wealthiest parts of the city which is probably why it wasn't built.

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True, and if you want to know - they could create a complete loop with 440. It wouldn't be the hardest thing to make TN-155 freeway standards from the airport to I-24, then create express lanes up to 440 - expand 440 to 8 lanes - then create more express lanes from 440 to Briley Parkway west.

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I don't know. We have traffic problems, but as one who's lived in Nashville all my life and have been driving in this town (and knowing all the routes), I have very few problems. My reverse commute in the morning helps, but nothing helps rush hours too much, just a bit o' patience.

Other than that, it's pretty much smooth sailing for me. But that's just me and my daily experience of living here and driving here. Sorry you guys have trouble getting around. Alternative routes, if necessary, are everywhere...but you have to know where they are, lucky me. I do.

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Worst traffic I've experienced:

1. Los Angeles

2. Washington D.C.

3. Northern New Jersey

4. Seattle

5. Houston

6. Atlanta

7. Miami

8. San Francisco

9. Dallas

10. Philadelphia

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You guys are right about Nashville's outdated freeway system. Haven't driven through the city in a few years though. I can imagine a horrible mess with all the construction. I don't think there is too much that can be done now to improve the grid of the city other than to tear the whole city down and rebuild.

Two weeks ago when I drove to St. Louis I noticed that there wasn't any construction. Most of the freeways has been reworked to have 8-12 lanes and traffic flowed smothly.

Below is a picture of the freeway system in St. Louis.

http://www.slfp.com/MetroStLouisMap.html

4 interstates

I44

I55 Rosa Parks Highway

I64/US40

I70 Mark McGuire Highway

As well as other intrastate that include

270/255 Veterans Memorial Highway (the loop)

170 (the innerbelt)

Also there are state highways that have been converted to freeways that have not shown on the map

370

page avenue extension.

Dallas also has an excellent freeway system.

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You forgot to mention that St Louis has a high quality Light Rail system as well. That is a great asset.

You forgot to mention that St Louis has a high quality Light Rail system as well. That is a great asset.

Yes they do. They are undergoing a 8 mile cross county extension that is going to connect to Washington University and Downtown Clayton business district, The Galleria and portions on South county around I44. Its supposed to be finished sometime in 2006.

http://www.crosscounty.org/maps.asp

The residence of St. Louis county could have said we want I 170 (the inner belt) to come through their area. But they where smart and chose to have the light rail instead. I think this is a concept that alot of city planners are trying to get to the public that its cheaper to have a light rail than to build expensive freeways.

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The residence of St. Louis county could have said we want I 170 (the inner belt) to come through their area. But they where smart and chose to have the light rail instead. I think this is a concept that alot of city planners are trying to get to the public that its cheaper to have a light rail than to build expensive freeways.[/qoute]

:) I'm glad that the Metrolink Cross County is chosen instead of freeways. Before Sacramento had their LRT built and finished in 1987, part of the alignment that runs from downtown to the north terminal of Watt/I-80 was supposed to be a freeway heading into downtown. Thankfully, that freeway proposal was rejected.

:angry: In Texas, it is a different story. Houston METRORail, though 9 months old, had future rail proposals. Road warrior minded TXDot, however, is planning to extend a freeway to 12 freeway lanes, 4 toll road lanes, and 8 frontage road lanes - all from the original 6 lanes, 1 HOV reversible and 2-3 frontage roads. An old ROW is on the north alignment, reserved for future METRORail, but that may be swallowed up, leaving no ROW at all. METRORail lost another future rail line when the Westpark Tollway was planned in the late 90s, then built right over the ROW. Finished May 2004 with 4 lanes. METRO tried fighting for these rail lines back in the early 90s, but TXDot ignored them. Like I said, TOO MUCH DEPENDENCE ON CARS.

Links: www.katyfreeway.org, www.ridemetro.org, www.sacrt.org

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OK I don't drive or even own a car so... but Dc has the worst traffic. the beltway can not even hold the number of automobiles anymore. The worst thing they could have ever done was to not built the proposed highways though the city and the outter beltway that was needed badly. the Metro is actually a very good way to get around the city, but that too also get cramped durning rush hour.

the worst spots in and around the Washington DC area for traffic is

the S turns on the northern Portion of the Beltway near Georgia and Conn Aves.

the Springfield interchange (major work going on now)

http://www.springfieldinterchange.com/

the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (Building a new and wider brigde hopefully with lightrail)

http://www.wilsonbridge.com/

and the I-66/ 95 interchange in Tysons Corner OMG STAY AWAY. :wacko:

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Your probably not gonna believe this, but out of all the cities I have been to (in the south),.. Jacksonville, Fl has the worst traffic I have ever seen.. I mean it absolutely makes no sense. It has traffic jams in both directions and due to lack of modern freeways, its surface streets are at a virtual stand still in most places.

Many construction projects in the city will be inadequate with in a decade, causing wasted tax money to go down the drain. The Matthews and Main St. bridges are due for replacement. SR 202 (JTB Bulvd) Should be widen to 8 not 6 lanes, which at the present time is only 4 for most of its route from I-95 and A1A. And until just 7 years ago, much of I-95 thru the entire city was only 4 lanes. There is only about a few miles of that section left.

But there has been progress. SR 10 (Atlantic Bulvd) has seen much relief from the opening of the Wonderwood Expressway (4 lanes), The extension of SR 9A (Future I-295 East) and the interchange at I-295/I-95, and the proposed I-795 that would relive traffic on I-95.

The FDOT has now begun to clear out land that will be used in what is called the "Big I" interchange at the I-95/I-10 split. Lets see how long this project will take to complete and the traffic tie-ups it will create.

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Bad traffic?

For it's size, I'd definitely agree that the Greenville-Spartanburg area is totally ridiculous. Two cities of equal size and very connected economically and culturally, but still several miles apart on more or less one road. I've been baffled by the amount of cars every time I've driven through there.

Austin has the worst traffic in Texas currently. The investment in infrastructure with the 290/71 freeway and the 183 freeway in the late 90's was just too little too late. Is the 71/35 interchange even done yet? The whole double-decker I-35 thing is one big death trap, especially the lower deck, with its lack of run lanes and blind ramps. Then there's the dumb freeways, like Loop 1, which doesn't really go anywhere and 290 East, which runs for about 2 miles and drops you off at a traffic light. Austin's solution thus far is toll roads with 183A to Leander and SH 45 around the city. It's a problem that you're in a car-hungry, conservative state, but in a very liberal city.

LA has bad traffic, but only on certain freeways. The 405 is about the worst, being crowded virtually 24/7 (I would imagine even on Christmas morning). The rest of LA runs fairly smoothly, albeit dangerously fast and bumper-to-bumper.

The traffic in Phoenix is also ridiculous, although they have an excellent road and freeway system nowadays for the most part. Over-growth and over-sprawl are keeping the concrete pouring though.

I lived in Houston for a total of 8 years, and the traffic is awful, but it generally moves. Houston has some of the most ridiculous construction projects now, like the monsterous new Katy Freeway (I-10 West) and the sinking of US 59 near Downtown (only a few years after every subterreanean freeway was flooded and stayed flooded for 3-4 days). There are a couple of really nice freeways there though, and the spoke system seems to have done them well. The highway spending in that state though is ludicrous.

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How bad is traffic flow in your city? I rank Nashville's traffic flow as absolutely one of the worst in the entire nation. For such of an automobile-oriented city, there is a very congested, undersized roadway system. Its not necessarily undersized in lanes - it is undersized in interchange and ramp quality. Construction itself is causing massive jams in the entire city.

Another problem is the system design itself. Here are two maps for you to ponder, and I'll discuss below:

centralnashville1.gif

centralnashville2.gif

Okay, these two maps show two views of central Nashville, the second zoomed into the immediate center city region.

One thing is obvious and easy to note - even for the noice map reader. All major streets - ALL OF THEM - do not have a clear pathway east/west and north/south. The major routes - in yellow - all converge like spider legs radiating almost entirely from a few blocks within downtown. In Nashville - the Interstate system is an absolute must to use. There are no alternative routes. None.

Secondly, the problem with interchanges and lane switching is very much a problem. The Interstates themselves don't have an absolute clear pathway through the city. Every single one of the Interstates converge on the downtown loop - 65, 24, and 40. Here's a genious idea: the Interstates squeeze from 10 lanes on 65/24 north to 8 and 6 lanes downtown. I-40 also squeezes from 8 lanes to 6 lanes in the immediate downtown area.

Considering this is the *only* throughfares through the town - these 1950 designed systems should have been updated in the 1980's.

Instead of doing it right - TDOT created and constructed I-440 in the 1980's. I-440 was a southern By-Pass - only 4 lanes in sections - that was meant to be a direct east-west route through the city. That has somewhat fixed the traffic flow east and west, as you can read the TDOT Smartway electronic signs for where traffic is bad and switch to the route which is less travelled.

However, it didn't fix the north-south problem, and 440 still converges back with 40 on both ends - causing rush hour jams.

To end this horror, Nashville's Interstate system is under such non-stop reconstruction that traffic flow is horrendously slow. At present - I-65 north is shut down to 6 *very* narrow lanes with zero shoulders between dividers while they expand it to 10 lanes for a solid 8 miles. Think that's a big project? Just wait until you hear the rest: Briley Parkway/i-40 west (TN-155 on the map) is undergoing a huge interchange flyover ramp reconstruction. TN-155/Briley parkway and I-40 east is ALSO undergoing reconstruction. Briley Parkway/TN155 east itself is being reconstructed to 8 lanes. This is part of fixing the old 1950 system where it is squeezed down from being 8 wide lanes with ample shoulders on both sides eastward beyond TN-155.

Think we're done? Not even close. I-40 is being reconstructed from Tn-155 east interchange to 8 lanes all the way to the 40/440/24 mega-double-interchange.

Virtually every major thoroughfare has a major project going on at all times - and with no alternative streets to travel on - traffic is just stalled for hours on end in the morning and evening rush hours every day.

Any other cities undergoing some major headaches?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

i so totally agree, i commute from hendersonville everyday into downtown and its a d**n mess. it a shame. i wish i worked for TDOT and was able to make corrections to this horrible system of streets.

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