World's Worst Traffic Jams

Forbes came out with an article, this past Tuesday, with what they perceive as the world's worst traffic jams.  I'm not sure what qualifies a financial advice site to be an authority on world's worst traffic jams.  Be that as it may, they provided some interesting insight.  They cited Wikipedia with the astute definition of  a traffic jam;  traffic congestion occurs when a volume of traffic or modal split generates demand for space greater than the available road capacity.  Well, thank you for that bit of enlightening news.  I suspect this article was written with this weekend's nightmarish Memorial Day traffic jams in mind.  Some of the places they mention might surprise you.  Other places will not surprise you in the least.  Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

They list the worst traffic jams in alphabetical order.  So, let's start with Bejjing, China in August 2010.  I actually remember this one.  This was a 62-mile traffic jam of cars being unable to move in any direction.  That traffic jam lasted almost 2 weeks.  That is hard to imagine. There appeared to be no special incident that caused this jam.  It was just a case of too many cars with too little space (see Wikipedia).

Bethel, New York in August 1969.  This was a three-day tie-up for reasons that some baby boomers (like me) are all too familiar.  That jam was due to more than 500,000 people attending the historic Woodstock Festival on Max Yasgur’s famous farm.  Motorists were stranded for more than 20 miles all the way to the New York Thruway.  Funny sidenote here; about ten years ago Rolling Stone magazine did a story on Woodstock.  According to them, if you talk to people from the baby boomer generation, at least 6 million attended the festival.  Do the math.

East/West, German in April of 1990.   This was the fall of the Berlin Wall.  On Easter of that year, there was a massive influx of people from East to West to connect with friends and relatives.  There were approximately 18 million cars on a roadway that usually can accommodate a half-million.  That should tell you something about how starved people in the East were for freedom. 

Lyons-Paris, France in February 1980.  This is generally considered the longest traffic jam in recorded history.  A rare combination of bad weather and vacationers contributed to a traffic jam that extended a mind-blowing 109 miles!!!  They would have had to carry me out of that jam.  It would have killed me.

I-45 Texas in September of 2005.  Most will remember this incredible traffic jam that was due to Cat 5 Hurricane Rita approaching Houston.  Over 2 million residents tried to escape the wrath of one of the worst hurricane seasons on record with Hurricane Rita adding to that misery.  Traffic was backed up about 100 miles leaving Houston....or I should say, trying to leave Houston.  The traffic jam lasted up to 48 hours.  Some people were stranded for up to 24 hours.  I remember reading about an oxygen tank on a bus that exploded and killed everyone on board.  It was a horrific event.

There are several more places that have an overwhelming status as being world's worst traffic jams.  But, these were the five that caught my attention most.  You can see the rest by clicking the Forbes link above.


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