Most clusterf***ed highway interchanges

I was driving in Norfolk last year, and got on I-64 with the aim of getting onto 58/560/13 and from there to I-95 south. Things started out well and fine, medium traffic but tons of lanes (they even had an HOV lane, tho this was a weekend), but then I noticed that lanes kept disappearing the further west I traveled (HOV lane vanished too), until it became a standard 2 by 2 highway, complete with horrible traffic jam. While stuck in the pattern (for more than an hour) I wondered about the planners who designed this highway, and why they made all those lanes go away. After much pondering, I couldn’t think of any possible rationale, with the resultant jam in was in proof enough of the absolute nonsensicalness of it all.

So what highway design horror stories are you familiar with?

Probably not quite a clusterf*ck, but in Philadelphia you cannot get from I-95 to the Ben Franklin Bridge, or any highway to the Ben Franklin Bridge without getting off the highway and sitting at a traffic light. I have no idea who planned this mess, but suspect it had something to do with a teritorial pissing contest between the Delaware River Port Authority and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

All this, after completing what was the most expensive in inner-city subterranean highway (circa 1988-ish) at the time, I-676, which connected I-76 to I-95 running straight through Philly.

Eastbound 401 to southbound 427 in Toronto. Seven lanes neck down to three in the space of a kilometre: two coming in from the southbound 427, two from the eastbound 401, and three from the westbound 401. There are always jamups there, even at times when the rest of the highway is flowing freely.

Actually, that whole 427/401/Eglinton Avenue/Highway 27 interchange is rather badly designed. Originally, back in the late fifties when the 401 was two lanes each way and the whole area was farms, it was two separate interchanges: the Hwy 401/Hwy 27 interchange, and a kilometre further west, the Airport Expressway going to the expanding Malton Airport.

But they decided to change Hwy 27 into a “400-series” freeway, and plug it into the airport. So, south of the 401, it became a freeway, and then it kind of curved westward overtop of the 401 until it got to the Airport Expressway, and then continued north around the east side of the airport property until just before Airport Road, where it then went to the terminal.

The result was a set of bridges at about a 20-degree angle to the roads beneath, which required enough support pillars that the roads beneath could not be easily widened, and when the entire 401 across Toronto went to a 12-lane configuration, this part couldn’t. Result: permanent jamups in this part of the 401.

The interchange now, from Google Maps.

The interchange then: historical photographs of the 401 from : photographs 1953 to 1960. This page has several photographs of the Hwy 401/Hwy 27 interchange. Note that the 401 was originally known as the Toronto Bypass and ended at Hwy 27, coming in from the northeast. It was later extended west.

People have taken to bypassing that whole section of the 401 by going up the 427 and across the 409 (the other airport expressway, coming fromm the east), then rejoining the 401. Zoomed-out view, showing the whole thing.

I’ll nominate one from the Bay Area.

There is one stretch of freeway, just east of the Bay Bridge, where 80 East and 580 West are the same road :confused: They, of course, split before you get to the bridge (coming from the east). The signs saying which one goes where only show up a short way before the split, so the traffic there is always horrendous- lots of people figure out they’re in the wrong lane, so they have to change lanes.

LA is the proud owner of the worst interchange in the nation. The 101 and 405. The design isn’t so bad, it’s just that there is traffic almost 24 hours per day on both freeways. I always take the PCH if I’m heading south.

There is some clusterfuck of an interchange in downtown LA. I’m thinking it’s the 101 and 10. They may have fixed it by now, but you used to have to cross 4 lanes of traffic in a quarter of a mile in order to make the transition. Quite exciting when people are driving 80mph in bumper to bumper traffic.

Not a freeway interchange, but there’s a stretch of #69 in Iowa that makes me nervous.

It’s a 2-lane highway and it can get busy. At this one curve heading south, you can stay on 69 – which most people do – or you can veer left to go to a little town called Randall.

But there’s no stop sign, yield sign, or flashing yellow, from either direction – no controls.

If you’re heading for Randall, you just hope that nobody’s coming from the opposite direction. If they are, you have to slow down or stop, and hope that nobody’s behind you. If you signal a left turn, the guy behind you is thinking “What? There’s no turn here – this driver’s crazy!”

If you’re coming from the opposite direction, you might wonder why the driver coming toward you is veering right in front of you.

If it’s foggy, you find another way to get to Randall.

The Springfield Interchange USED to be a total clusterfuck, now it’s just an under construction clusterfuck.

I’ll echo this and just call the whole Bay Bridge (80)/880/580 interchange just east of the bay a huge clusterf*** on a titanic order. I don’t know if its a design flaw or just an effect of overcrowding but its a horrible parking lot of cars most hours of the day and most days of the week. I’m especially talking about southbound 880 just north of the bridge around Berkeley. Its always, always packed.

I opened this thread to mention the “mixing bowl” just before the Springfield, VA exit on 95. The beltway met with 95 there. During rush hour you had people coming out of HOV lanes, cutting across 5 lanes of traffic to exit on their right, while you had beltway traffic dumped onto 95 who had to cut across five lanes of traffic to their left for an upcoming exit, plus you had all these out of state drivers just spit out into the middle of it, with the look in their eyes of absolute terror.

There used to be an ok interchange in Frederick Maryland between I-70 and I-270/US 15. When I used to live there it was pretty easy to get on the highways and little traffic tie ups. Now they’ve made it so there are tie ups in all four directions, sometimes at the same time. They made it four lanes going from 70 to 270 south, two end in less then a mile. They’ve taken away the on ramp that used to be long enough to build up speed to get on the highway so now there’s no merge area going north.

Depending on when you go through there it can be miles of back ups because of it. I’ve never understood why they made it the way they did, nor why they took away a lot of the exits and interchanges only to make it worse then it was.

The D.C. area has two of these horrific interchanges. Going from the mixing bowl down to I-95 south, you have something like eight lanes’ worth of ramps condensing down to three travel lanes (with two HOV lanes if they’re open in that direction). That means that something like one-third of the traffic will have to merge.

I-95 south to the outer loop of the D.C. Beltway (near College Park) takes two of I-95’s four lanes and drops them onto the Beltway. That creates six lanes of traffic. Within the next mile and change the rightmost lane is exit-only and two more lanes (one left, one right) go away. That means six lanes down to three – no fun.

I-95 hitting the Baltimore Beltway is almost as bad. From the south, the most popular ramp onto the Beltway is a steep, decreasing-radius ramp that comes off the left lane of I-95. In the two miles before this ramp, I-95 makes a sharp left and sharp right down the face of a hill as two local roads merge on from the right. This means that the poorly-designed ramp builds a queue of cars that sit in the fastest lane of traffic, and the panic braking that results from finding these cars creates a three or four mile “tar patch” that slows down all traffic. Merging traffic moves left through the stew, through traffic merges far right if they have a brain, and occasionally assholes will start a second line for the ramp in the #2 lane…

At the top of the Baltimore Beltway, I-95 and I-895 merge together right before they hit the Beltway. Both directions of the beltway merge with the resulting I-95 all at once, and again you get something like eight lanes down to four. This is probably the least pathological of the four I mentioned, but I figured if I was doing the other three I-95 / Beltway ramps I ought to cover this one, too.

Going onto George Washington Bridge from I-95 in New Jersey. Something like ten lanes turns into four lanes in the space of about 100 yards. We got funnelled through there going to White Plains last year and I’m specifically avoiding it when we go up at the end of this month. Horrible…

In Seattle going from the 90 West to get onto the 5 North, the freeway goes from three lanes down to one. That can get pretty sucky.

Not as bad as some others, but in Indiana, on I-69, to get to Fishers and to get to Yorktown.

The I-70/I-81 interchange is pretty bad. I used to use it to get to/from southern Maryland and I hated it every single time. Going 81 south to 70 east wasn’t that bad, but 70 west to 81 north was awful, even though I think they were both built the same way. Tight, tight interchange that has to be taken very slowly and then no seperate lane or even merging room. Here’s a picture.

There are a few unnecessarily @#$^%ed interchanges on Orlando’s highways, most involving a merge point between two toll roads followed immediately by a toll booth.

Now, in the days before E-pass this was maybe tolerable. But now, you have half the people who merged on from the right trying to get into the left hand lanes to use the E-pass Only lanes, and have the people who merged from the left trying to get into the right lanes to use tolls. And the two streams are merge into each other at different speeds. And will end at different speeds.

Part of the problem started with the Cypress Structure collapse in the '89 quake and the insanely long delay in consturcting the replacement (which has-or had- the distinction of being the most expensive freeway ever built at something like $20,000 per inch). For the decade or so that intervened, one had to follow a convuluted route that had previously existed- 880 N to 980 to 580W to 80. And as you got onto 580, cross over to the left, while all the traffic on the left tried to get to the right. The Maze is still a monstrosity of bad traffic, no matter where you’re coming from and where you’re going.

The approach to the George Washington Bridge bronx side is totally ridiculous no matter how you need to get through it.

If you come down I87 south going to I95 and there is traffic in either direction on 95 you’re screwed.

If you’re coming up I87 north (below the interchange) you’ll get Bridge traffic, even though you’re going nowhere near the bridge.

If there’s a yankee game you’re screwed, if there’s a panhandler slowing down traffic on the approach you’re screwed.

Up until several years ago the interchange of I-25 and I-70 in Denver was one of the worst in the nation. We called it The Moustrap (that was the actual name for it on all the radio and TV traffic reports.) It was rebuilt in the 1990s and looks much better now. Further north, the interchanges of I-76, I-270/225 and I-25 are still pretty dicey.

Westbound 401 to westbound 407. The 407 is a toll road that goes around Toronto, while the 401 goes straight through Toronto. If you want to bypass Toronto entirely, the 407 is much faster. The trouble is, the 407 ends in the middle of fucking nowhere, and there are no signs on the westbound 401 directed you to the 407. So unless you can remember the trick to getting there(which I seem to recall is get off the 401 at the second Brock St you reach), you’ll never find it.