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http://www.bcentral.com/articles/elliott/162.asp?cobrand=msn&LID=3800
America's 5 worst freeways


Power Trip / Christopher Elliott

Which U.S. roads are the most hazardous? As many travelers abandon commercial airlines — one of the safest ways to get around — in favor of autos, it's a question worth asking.

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But don't look to the government for answers. I just spent the better part of a day calling every federal agency remotely associated with highway safety, and there are apparently no lists of bad or dangerous roads. Or even of highways that motorists complain about a lot. I've been talking to answering machines and reading one incomprehensible agency Web site after another. As one of my old journalism instructors said, "Down that road lies madness."

Instead, I turned to you to find out which strips of asphalt should be shunned. I asked this column's readers to focus on the roadways more traveled — the major highways we're all likely to roll down at some point in our journeys — paying attention to road conditions, traffic, usability, and overall reputation.

Based on the feedback you gave me, plus my own experiences, here's my list of the five worst.

Interstate 5, between Los Angeles and San Diego. It was difficult to pick just one stretch of I-5, the 1,375-mile interstate highway that runs between Canada and Mexico. There were so many other contenders, especially in California and Washington. But in the end, Southern California's legendary traffic put it over the top.

In portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties, I-5 is, at best, a dangerous parking lot. But once you start heading south, and the cars begin to pick up speed, the parking lot actually starts to move. Then it's as if all the pent-up aggression from sitting in hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic is suddenly released. The cars speed along the freeway at 85 miles an hour as tightly as Blue Angels until some bozo — don't be surprised if it is a convertible packed with college kids bound for Tijuana — decides to break ranks and pass on the right. (Believe me, I know. I used to be one of those kids.) Diane Scholfield, a Web site editor who lives in Oceanside, Calif., says it's difficult to get around this highway from hell — but not impossible. "There really is no good time of the day to avoid the traffic anymore," she says. "So I take the train."


Florida Turnpike, between Orlando and Miami. "Argh," exclaims Barbara Pettit, who lived in the Sunshine State for 18 years. "That road is awful." Not because of the traffic (it's actually far better than trying to take the always-clogged I-95). Not because of road conditions (it's one of the best-maintained roads I've ever traveled on).

No, the Turnpike is terrible for three reasons: First, it's expensive — a 259-mile drive from my exit in Homestead, Fla., to Orlando costs $14.65. Whatever happened to the road taxes we pay? Second, because of the other drivers. If you thought the college kids from Southern California were obnoxious, wait until you try to navigate the caravan of station wagons and rental cars loaded to capacity with screaming kids who can't wait for their theme-park vacation to begin. And, yet, they're nothing compared with the Florida Highway Patrol, which lurks behind the bridges and pulls you over for going three miles over the speed limit. It's happened to me, folks.

However, the Turnpike's single-worst feature, in my opinion, is that it's a boring drive. There's nothing to see along this highway except the intermittent signs imploring you to pull over at Yeehaw Junction for a rest. As if anyone would want to prolong this trip for just one minute more.

I-90, between Madison, Wis., and Chicago. Once again, it was tough to pick a single stretch of roadway along the longest interstate highway in the country. Take it from someone who's been along almost the whole length of the highway numerous times.

But in the end, a well-worn portion of I-90 took top honors. The section of I-90 in Wisconsin and western Illinois reminds me a lot of the drive along Highway 2, south of Fairbanks, Alaska, which is punctuated by potholes the size of basketballs. Except that drive is at least scenic. Once you get into the Chicago suburbs, the fun really begins. Construction, traffic, the chaotic O'Hare International Airport, more traffic and then a labyrinth of confusing road signs that make you wish you'd sprung for one of those on-board navigational computers. "Never again," says Elizabeth Rodriguiz, a secretary from Ypsilanti, Mich. "Not unless I'm under general anesthesia."

New Jersey Turnpike, between the Delaware Memorial Bridge and New York. OK, so traveling the length of this toll road will set you back only about $6, which is roughly what it costs to cross the average bridge in New York. Then again, you shouldn't let the relatively low cost of using this road fool you. It's a nightmare.

If you're coming from the Washington, D.C., area, the fun really begins in Delaware, where you encounter so many tollbooths that you hardly have the opportunity to shift into high gear before having to slow down for the next one. After crossing into the Garden State, you have to contend with some of the most aggressive drivers in the Western world.

The Turnpike is relatively narrow in the southern part — meaning you have to be extra vigilant about these hostile motorists. As you head north, the highway suddenly splits into two, one for trucks and cars, and the other just for cars. Think quickly! Are you a truck and car or just a car? And if that seems difficult, then try it in reverse, merging eight lanes into two on the southbound drive. Can you say "bottleneck"?

Finally, a word of advice for those of you who can find their way past more utterly confusing signage: Keep your windows rolled up in northern New Jersey. Between the oil refineries and pharmaceutical companies along the Turnpike, there is no such thing as fresh air.

I-45, between Dallas and Houston. If you look at a map, this may seem like the fastest way to get from Dallas to Houston. But during the past decade, it's proven to be one of the most frustrating. I remember one late December evening when I drove to Houston on I-45 to spend Christmas with my uncle's family. Rain had abruptly turned into an ice storm, and cars were skidding off the crowded road like I hadn't seen since a freak snowstorm that we encountered along I-80 from Sacramento, Calif., to Reno, Nev.

Making matters worse was the fact that the highway was just too narrow to accommodate all the cars. That's something the state of Texas has been working to fix for the better part of the last decade. Translation: lots of delays. And by some accounts, there are more in the works as officials ponder yet another expansion of this road. There are other downsides of the drive down I-45, including the fact that everyone seems to be in such a hurry to get to their destination that they believe they own the road. In the end, this stretch of highway is probably so bad because everyone wants to use it at the same time.

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I think it's funny how I used to drive on I-5 almost every day, and now I've moved to NJ and I drive on the Turnpike just about every day. Yeah, they're BOTH on the list. :crazy:

Just my luck... :roll: :p

-Harry
 

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SDPassatT said:
I-45, between Dallas and Houston.Making matters worse was the fact that the highway was just too narrow to accommodate all the cars. That's something the state of Texas has been working to fix for the better part of the last decade.
And here I thought everything was bigger in Texas. :p
 

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We are #1!!!!!

Nah..Nah..nan.nan.nah.....WHOOPY!!!

Boy socal freeways suck. What it doesn't tell you is all the freeways are like that.
Add rain, and you have WWII dodging triple A fire. Instead of artillary, it is cars and flying car debris. :thumbdow:
 

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Kinda like a woman I saw on the news in 1999 when that "mile-wide" tornado hit Oklahoma City. She was being interviewed that stated: "I just moved here from California and my house is gone !!!"... Dumb-ass moved from Earthquake Central to Tornado Alley and she was looking for sympathy !?!?!?! :lol: :lol: :cry: :cry: :lol: Ya big cry baby,Harry !!! :poke: :p
 

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AAAHHH! Yowre in Joysey now?!?

#1 is why I leave at 6AM to go to work. At 6:15, it starts to be the highway from hell.
 

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parkway should be up there too.
old people in the south going to a.c.
and just a cluster f in the north
 

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I-96 in Detroit didn't make the list!? The section just east of the Southfield Freeway (M-39) seems more like an unpaved road. Just experienced its suspension compressing glory this afternoon. :crazy: Maybe I should commend the state of Indiana for keeping its interstate highways in comparatively good condition...
 

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Darter said:
SDPassatT said:
I-45, between Dallas and Houston.Making matters worse was the fact that the highway was just too narrow to accommodate all the cars. That's something the state of Texas has been working to fix for the better part of the last decade.
And here I thought everything was bigger in Texas. :p
I love I-45, its a high speed burn from Dallas to Houston. The freeway is smooth, flat, and straight as hell with no cops. I cruised for 3 hours flat from houston to dallas at just under 100mph, plz person who wrote this what else do you want... :roll:
 

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I hate the Jersey Turnpike. Every time I get on there, it's backed the F up. The only time I see it flowing is around 1-2AM on my trips from Boston to Philly. The best though are the NJ drivers who get in a minor fender bender in the left lane, then PARK IN THE LEFT LANE while they wait for the cops to come. PULL OVER! :mad: I hate the f-ing signs they have that flash "CONGESTION AHEAD" while you're moving 100 feet an hour.

George Carlin's rant on NJ roads is awesome. "You can't back out of your driveway in New Jersey without some schmuck in a hat wants 50 cents! I don't mind paying tolls, but every 27 feet? Bullshit!"
 
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Try the fdr at 5:30 southbound brooklyn bridge ramp, if you wanna see some lane changing, bumper to bumper action. But my personal favorite it he jackie robinson, on any saturday eveing its like driving the nurburing with blind people. :nervous: :lol:
 

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MakH said:
I hate the Jersey Turnpike. Every time I get on there, it's backed the F up. The only time I see it flowing is around 1-2AM on my trips from Boston to Philly. The best though are the NJ drivers who get in a minor fender bender in the left lane, then PARK IN THE LEFT LANE while they wait for the cops to come. PULL OVER! :mad: I hate the f-ing signs they have that flash "CONGESTION AHEAD" while you're moving 100 feet an hour.
This is not solely an NJ occurence
 

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Rich P said:
New Jersey Turnpike, between the Delaware Memorial Bridge and New York.
Don't forget those rubberneckers. And those motorists who slam their brakes the moment they spot a Crown Vic with a lightbar. A lot of them just slow down even if they're not going over the speed limit. :crazy:
That happens everywhere, Rich. Usually they aren't even jersey plates too, they are out of towners that dont' know that "Speed Limit 65" means "Speed Limit 85" in NJ.
 

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Rich P, I ride the turnpike about once a week.. From exit 3 to exit 11, and back again that evening.. I run into a backup maybe once a month, when I head back around rush hour.. the 6 to 3 lane squeeze is usually backed up.. anyhow... 1) anyone driving an interceptor on the turnpike ignores up to 15 over.. I've found that out personally.. a hair over that and you get pulled over :lol:

On the turnpike...
I've learned its'
:roll: to all of these:

Okay to pass on the right when the left lane is wide open, and you're cruising in the center

Okay to be a big rig and take up 2 lanes for no appareant reason

Okay to pass someone then proceed to go a mph or two slower than you were travelling before they went to pass you

Okay to continue at 80 through work zones

Okay to cross all lanes of traffic last second to make your exit

Okay to tailgate

Okay to race BMW's and Ricers

Okay to break down on the road, and not even attempt to pull over

Okay to throw spent coffee cups out the window

Okay to flip people off for no reason

okay to... need I go on? :lol:

BTW yes, I am one of those hostile motorists :lol: if you see a silver '02 passat stock but always clean, just honk and wave, I won't look at you like you're :crazy: :D
 

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They left out the 91 E/W from Riverside to Anaheim. Going through Corona is BAD enough but Green River is :puke: !
 

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I love New Jersey, everytime I have been there its just a different world. However, for quality of roads, from my experience I have to go with Detroit. As soon as you get to toledo, everything goes to hell, the seams in the pavement are like train tracks, and the holes are like the original offroad video game I remember as a kid.
 

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I-495 (The Beltway) around DC ain't no walk in the park..... But one good thing is that it's often so crowded, you can't move anyway...

And then there's the drawbridge...
 
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