Many motorists visiting the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., have faced the challenges of “Spaghetti Junction” — the intersection of I-64, I-65 and I-71 in the city’s downtown.
That convergence of three major interstates ranks as one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks, and a Greater Louisville organization representing 120 employers in manufacturing and logistics says it is choking off commerce and threatening one of the region’s largest economic sectors.
Spaghetti Junction ranks No. 11 on a new list of the nation’s 100 worst bottlenecks released by the American Transportation Research Institute and the Federal Highway Administration, according to a news release.
The I-75, I-71 interchange at I-275 in the Brent Spence Bridge corridor linking Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is ranked 69th worst bottleneck.
“We expect major cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago to have this kind of congestion, but this ranking points out that we have some of the worst safety and congestion problems in the nation at Spaghetti Junction,” said Chuck Moore, co-chairman of the Greater Louisville Manufacturing and Logistics Network.
The network represents businesses in one of the region’s key industrial sectors, which represents more than 147,000 area jobs with manufacturing, distribution or logistics companies. The concentration of logistics jobs accounts for more than 10 percent of the region’s total payroll and is more than twice the national average.
“This situation has a significant and negative impact on the free flow of commerce and on the ability to keep and attract jobs. We are a major logistics hub for much of the country and we cannot afford to be a bottleneck,” Moore said.
Moore, president of Eagle Steel which operates on both sides of the river, said the rankings should put added emphasis on getting the Ohio River Bridges Project financed and completed as quickly as possible.
“We need a safe downtown bridge and interchange that moves traffic efficiently and we need more cross-river access in the east with the new bridge there. Jobs and safety are on the line,” he said.
Travel in Spaghetti Junction, which does not meet current safety standards, will continue to grow worse, according to a federal study which predicts average morning and afternoon rush hour speeds of less than 20 miles per hour in 2025 if nothing is done.
The federal study also cited a high accident rate in Spaghetti Junction, where crashes occur at more than double the rate for other urban highway interchanges.