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8 Congested U.S. Highways to Avoid

| Updated Oct 7, 2019

RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers know how great RVing is, but there is one aspect of it that can be a major pain: traffic. 

I'm talking specifically about city traffic, the worst kind of all. It can be incredibly frustrating to know you are crawling along in a place that is a relatively short distance from open road. 

I'd love to know what our Fellow Travelers consider the most congested highway are out there. I suspect I'll understandably get feedback based on whatever traffic you might be stuck in at any given moment. 

But if you're looking for something more “official”  connected car services company INRIX of Kirkland, Washington has you covered. 

That's because the company puts out an annual Global Traffic Scorecard based on a comprehensive study of congestion and mobility trends among more than 200 cities in nearly 40 nations. (Forbes helped sort out the data here.)

Based on its criteria, here are the eight most congested U.S. highways, starting with No. 8:

8. I-278 in New York City

Also known as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and frequently shortened to the BQE, prepare to spend a lot of time staring at some of the more nondescript sections of Brooklyn, with a few glimpses of Queens from above. A few short sections afford a nice view of the Manhattan skyline and chances are you’ll be in them long enough that you can take a picture or two, but the novelty wears off quick and it's back to staring at the bumper of the car in front of you.

7. I-93 in Boston

A New England intra-regional Interstate, Interstate 93 serves the Boston metro area, northern Massachusetts through Lawrence, the state of New Hampshire, and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The freeway provides a direct connection to Canada in conjunction with Interstate 91 north of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Built as part of the Big Dig project, the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Tunnel carries 1.5 miles of Interstate 93 below central Boston. The tunnel runs between Kneeland and Causeway Streets to directly link I-93 with the 2003-opened Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge. There's a lot of history connected with this stretch of highway but for purposes of RVing, all you need to know is that for a little more than 11 miles, you can often count on gridlock and a slow trip out of the city.

6. I-76 in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s in a similar boat as Boston when it comes to design. The streets wind back on themselves, don’t go by numbers or any easy-to-decipher pattern. There’s a nice long stretch of I-76 (the Schuylkill Expressway) that goes from Conshohocken to almost the center of the city, where — if you try to drive your RV at the right/wrong time — you can expect to spend a significant portion of your life. 

5. I-376 in Pittsburgh

Sources say Pittsburgh drivers have an almost “cultish” devotion to their city’s traffic, bordering a weird kind of pride. Pittsburgh commuters “enjoy” an inordinate amount of traffic, they’re intensely aware they sit in an inordinate amount of traffic, and they’re desperate not to sit in so much traffic. Yet, according to, “you get the sense that if the city’s traffic issues were solved tomorrow, there’d be a section of the population who’d get nostalgic for it and say things like, ‘This city’s not what it used to be' or ‘When I was your age, I’d have to fight through two hours of traffic. Uphill. Both ways.'”

4. I-10 in Los Angeles

Statistically, L.A. traffic doesn’t get any worse than the stretch of I-10 between I-405 and I-110. Anecdotally, however,  traffic is the worst wherever it is people are currently stuck so isn't all of this a matter of opinion really? (NO! Remember, this is based on actual data and research.)

3. I-290 in Chicago

Chicago accounts for the next two spots on this list. Part of the reason I-94 might contribute to congestion on I-290 is because I-94 is full of people who are confused as to how the road they’re currently on could be I-94 and I-90 at the same time, so they bail onto I-290 and leave the mess of an interstate system that runs through Chicago’s downtown. 

2. I-94/I-90 in Chicago

How can it be a good idea to bring two huge interstate highways into a single road? Answer: It isn't! No wonder people can’t move. They’re trying to navigate two highways at the same time.

1. Cross Bronx Expressway (part of I-95) in New York City 

So maybe New York City isn't the best place to try and navigate if you don't have to, and especially with an RV. The Cross Bronx Expressway is technically part of I-95, but it's its own monster, often bringing the Bronx to a standstill.

So that's the list.

Should you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to traverse one of these highways, consider checking out the recent RV Lifestyle post about “Getting around big city traffic.” In the post, I offer several ways to help make “big city traffic” less of a nightmare.

Good luck!




Mike Wendland

Published on 2019-10-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

6 Responses to “8 Congested U.S. Highways to Avoid”

May 30, 2020at7:21 pm, RV Living 101: Our Complete Guide to the Most Helpful RV Resources | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] Click here for 8 congested US highways for RVers to avoid […]

March 08, 2020at8:27 pm, MaryAnne said:

We try to go through Atlanta on a Sunday on our way to and from Florida. One advantage— with two of us in the RV, we can take the HOV lane!

October 13, 2019at6:17 pm, Gail said:

I cannot believe interstate 75 Atlanta did not make the list. Hhmmmm must not have been on it. It can take 3hrs to get thru Atlanta.

May 19, 2020at11:21 pm, Michael Schuetz said:

I only plan to hit Atlanta on Sunday mornings going to or coming back from FL to WI. Otherwise I plan a eastern or western route to AVOID it.
Remember the commuters stuck overnight after a 3″ snow and ice Jan. 30, 2014? It was freezing.

October 12, 2019at10:41 pm, Jim Guld said:

I’ve been on every one of these roads. Most of them more than once in a big rig towing a car. They are not nearly as bad in the van camper, believe me! #vanlife #geeksontour

October 10, 2019at2:10 pm, Cary Alburn said:

The worst congested highway I’ve driven on is I-5 from a few miles south of Seattle to a few miles north of Seattle.

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