Interstate 66: The ‘Worst Damn Freeway in America’?

WASHINGTON — The experience of driving on Interstate 66 from D.C. to Virginia can rattle even the most experienced of drivers. On any given day, it seems, motorists find themselves dodging potholes, avoiding drivers who don’t signal, maneuvering around construction sites or sitting for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Many of the headaches drivers experience are documented by the Federal Highway Administration. After examining the data, the website Thrillist has put Interstate 66 in the D.C. area atop the list of the “Worst Damn Freeways in America.”

The website says it examined the FHWA’s annual database on the nation’s interstates, which the website says is “stuffed with more statistics than a baseball archive.”

Thrillist factored together the number of fatal accidents in a year, the international roughness index (a number based on the traffic a road sees in a day) and traffic congestion numbers.

I-66 scored half a point higher than I-10 in New Orleans.

i-66 signs
(WTOP/Mike Murillo)

I-66 is backed up an average of 7 hours and 15 minutes each day. That’s second only to the 405 in Los Angeles, which is congested 8 hours 27 minutes a day on average.

Al Brown, of Manassas, Virginia, said his commute home from D.C. each day averages an hour and a half, but it’s still his best option.

“If I take Route 50 or any other road, I am still faced with the traffic lights,” Brown said.

Interstate 66 also is said to come up as the most unpredictable in the U.S., with many drivers not sure day-to-day whether they will show up early to work, or hours late when using it.

Matt Kier, of Arlington, Virginia, agrees that it’s a hard road to plan on in a commute.

“It’s a Catch-22: You get on it sometimes [and] it’s clear; other times, it’s a two-hour commute to get to Route 50 or something,” Kier said.

So drivers who commute each day between D.C. and Virginia and say they have the worst commute now have numbers to back it up.

The Worst Damn Freeways in America

  1. I-66 in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.
  2. 1-10 in New Orleans, Louisiana
  3. The 610 Loop in Houston, Texas
  4. The 405 in Los Angeles, California
  5. 1-70 in Denver, Colorado
  6. I-635/LBJ in Dallas, Texas
  7. I-35 in Austin, Texas
  8. I-80 in San Francisco, California
  9. I-880 in San Jose, California
  10. I-376/Parkway East in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  11. I-76/Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  12. I-95 and I-195 in Providence, Rhode Island

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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