- The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reported "unprecedented" truck movement, especially through some of the nation's tightest bottlenecks, in a report issued Tuesday.
- Some trucks are traveling at more than double the speed at which they usually move during rush hour at bottlenecks, such the notorious intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta, known locally as "Spaghetti Junction." ATRI found truck speeds are typically less than 15 mph due to congestion at that time and place. Last week, truck speeds averaged 53 mph through the interstates' intersection, still below the legal speed limit.
- COVID-19 has caused many employers to ask workers to stay home. As traffic dissipates because of such work-from-home policies, trucks move quickly, delivering relief supplies to markets, hospitals, gas stations and other essential businesses, the institute found.
ATRI uses real-time GPS data gathered anonymously from 1 million trucks, allowing the research arm of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to analyze freight flows. With COVID-19 keeping many commuters home, researchers are seeing what truck speeds might look like without bottlenecks and congestion.
"Spaghetti Junction is typical of what we’ve seen across the country, especially in areas hit hard by the virus and subject to quarantines and lockdowns," said Rebecca Brewster, ATRI president and COO, said in the report.
New York, California and Illinois rush hour data:
- In New York City, along I-495 in Queens, afternoon rush of 16 mph more than doubled, now averaging 38 mph.
- In Los Angeles, intersection of I-710 and I-105, morning rush hours are normally less than 25 mph, truck speeds are now averaging 53 mph.
- In Chicago, where I-290 intersects with I-90 and I-94, morning truck speeds were 20 mph, but are now averaging 43 mph.
ATRI believes a secondary cause is round-the-clock truck operations are generating higher average truck speeds across nearly all hours of the day.
Transportation analytics company INRIX is also finding congestion has dissipated.
Traffic speeds have significantly increased in Chicago and Los Angeles, according to data from INRIX, which analyzed traffic speeds in 25 of the most populous U.S. cities from March 11 through March 18.
By the morning of March 18, drivers in Chicago traveled 77% faster than usual, and Los Angeles drivers traveled 53% faster. Atlanta saw the smallest change in traffic speeds, with drivers traveling 16% quicker than usual. "
Dramatic changes in travel speed continue to spread across the country," said Trevor Reed, INRIX transportation analyst, in a statement emailed to Transport Dive sister publication Smart Cities Dive on March 19. "If current trends persist, it is probable major congestion will cease to exist in the country's most congested cities within the week."