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Also read Part 1

They should pay you to enter these interchanges

There is a difference between "going mental" and making mental calculations how to get out of this traffic mess... at least we hope there is.

The complexity of modern interchanges can be daunting (for some aerial shots of most convoluted ones head over to our previous article). Here is an exaggerated vision of what the future may look like:

(original unknown)

And this is present day in Japan (does that make your heart beat faster?)

(original unknown)

But here are a few more that definitely ask to be included into the
"Most Complex Junctions" Hall of Fame:

- Shanghai, China
(see that little circle on the side: this is a trap for amateur drivers, in which they swirl around forever)

- Taganskaya Square, Moscow
(shaped like a huge dumb loaf of bread... and just as unpalatable)

- Tokyo, Japan
(this one's actually quite elegant)

- Arc de Triumph, Paris
(Place Charles de Gaulle - pretty much free-for-all there)

Nice Chicago arrangements:

You also gotta love this one in Minneapolis:
(between 35W and 94)

Golden Glades interchange in N. Miami Beach, FL.

Looking like some strands of yarn: Rt. 440 in New Jersey:

(images courtesy Google Earth)

Magic Roundabout

Something to shock you into disbelief, and leave you utterly shattered: getting in and out of the "magic mushroom circle" in England:

There are three intersections like this in UK: in Swindon, Hemel and in Cardiff. See exactly how it works here and here.

A cheat sheet "how to get out" is more helpful:

China is at the forefront of traffic circles (and spiral bridge approaches), as well:

Some vintage visions of intersections

Little did the urban planners of yesteryear and futurist designers imagined how complex our traffic infra-structure would become. The closest perhaps was the "Futurama" display in the 30s:

Looks actually quite orderly:

There is a highway in my basement

Another solution for the busy intersection: put a "traffic-control" tower smack in the middle (and on top) of it!

This strange concoction comes from "Modern Mechanics" 1932 issue and is called "Safety Tower" - basically a multi-level interchange, with space above it used for businesses and entertainment (including air traffic control beacons!)

(image credit: Modern Mechanix)

Amazingly, same idea came to Russians recently, as they put a huge "flying saucer" mall on top of major intersection: see here

and of course, a humorous solution (that might just work in Russia, who knows)

Railway intersections: "Diamond Crossings"

Quite a few of them can be found in US, but not that many in the rest of the world. US railway companies liked this kind of intersection which does not allow a train switch to a rival company's tracks.

Here is a couple: in Poland and Russia:

(original unknown)

Traffic Jams from Hell

What a better way to greet Monday than to publish a collection of horrendous traffic congestion pictures, which may cause even most patient driver to shudder and say "Boy, am I glad I'm not in this mess right now".

First picture is taken from the window of Red Hat's offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, followed by various location around the world, with Russia featured quite prominently -

(image credit: Glommer's Mind)

Bucharest, Romania

Unregulated mess somewhere in Russia:

Here is the classic traffic jam that terrorized Moscow Sadovoye Koltzo (ring road) in October 2007:

Continuing well into the night:

(images credit: Anton Nossik)

This particular congestion is not actually a traffic jam. It happened in Italy during the strike, creating bottle-necks for trucks at the border:
(still very hairy situations with long waits involved) -

(original unknown)

Jacek Yerka's unique solution to urban traffic problems, in surreal light:

(image credit: Jacek Yerka)

(other sources: Razorbiker, AutoExpress, Freedom Trail Riders)



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Anonymous Noodles said...

"There are three intersections like this in UK: in Swindon, London and in Cardiff, near Southampton."

Either there are 4 or a major geographical disturbance - Cardiff is in no way near Southampton.

And yay at seeing "Devizes" on a sign...on the big Internets! (I lived there).

Anonymous Fred said...

You missed the Marquette interchange in Milwakee Wisconsin. It wraps around the Aldrich Chemical Company building. You can drive past all sides of the building at several levels.

Anonymous tangle said...

I think city planners must clean the hair out of the drain, study it for a moment and say, "I think I could build that."

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

lol - they might actually do it in spare time!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are three intersections like this in UK: in Swindon, London and in Cardiff, near Southampton."

And one in Hemel hempstead.....

Anonymous werwer said...

There isn't one in London, just this one in Swindon. I was driven across it by the police once after being arrested and was interested to obxerve that they just drove straight through it ignoring all the many markings and rules. This was at 2am, however, so there wasn't any other traffic- not that they would accept that as an excuse if I'd been driving.

Blogger Embee said...

Seriously the traffic jams in this article are amateur stuff. Cairo, Egypt has the absolute worst traffic EVER!

Anonymous apotheosis said...

This just makes me wanna play SimCity 4 in the WORST way.

Blogger zondron said...

the 7th picture from traffic jams is from bucharest, romania

Blogger Skipweasel said...

I used to take learners onto the Magic Roundabout in Hemel. They coped - it's not really as bad as it seems. Until a fire engine turns up - they just take the shortest line between entry and exit and everyone else scatters.

OpenID lpereira said...

The picture in São Paulo is not from Google's headquarters, but from Red Hat's office. It was first posted here: http://www.glommer.net/blogs/?p=189

Blogger PT said...

I used to live 100 yards from the magic roundabout in Swindon (pictured). I remember it going in, replacing a giant roundabout that was probably the busiest intersection in town. It was bewildering at first, but it doubled and tripled the traffic flow.

Anonymous Will said...

You missed the 3 tier intersection in Sheffield, the murderous ring road in Bradford and the havoc wreaking Gunwharf Quays entrance zone that cuts up about a quarter of Portsmouth Docks.

Anonymous James Marks said...

What's the back-story to the pic of the jam surrounding what appears to be a petrol station?

Blogger Joe said...

You missed the worst traffic of Dubai. A 10 mins walk sometimes takes 45-60mins driving. And the crazy drivers that caused a pile up of 200+ vehicles on a foggy morning. Ghantoot Car Accident, google it.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

very cool... all these suggestions will go into a next part

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Mixing Bowl just south of DC?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'There isn't one in London' - certainly one in Greater London, outside Hatton Cross tube station.

Blogger Tom L. said...

I will never complain about traffic here in the US ever again. Euro and eastern Euro traffic planners are utterly retarded.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

jay whitlow said he would never drive again after viewing these images and he's glad he lives in extreme-rural kansas where he can get anywhere he wants without using a public road and sammie gave up on roads being that they go in two directions and he never could figure out which direction to go.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No traffic jam survey is complete without mentioning Bangkok!

Blogger Chris said...

"You missed the Marquette interchange in Milwakee Wisconsin. It wraps around the Aldrich Chemical Company building. You can drive past all sides of the building at several levels."

The Aldrich Chemical building is long gone - it was torn down at the very beginning of the Marquette Interchange rebuilding. (While the reconstruction did make the interchange theoretically safer, it didn't make it any less complex. In fact, I'd say it is even more complex than before.)

Blogger Jennifer said...

tangle: Planners don't design interchanges, engineers do.

Blogger dzieger said...

That shot of the Miami Gardens interchange is a recent one - that's what it looks like after a reworking that seemed to drag on for something like a decade. Previously, the layout was so demented, that there were a couple of transfers from one road to another that took no fewer than 7 steps (exits, ramps, u-turns, etc.) to complete.

The current arrangement is much less treacherous, though increased traffic volume has pretty much negated any improvements in the rush-hour commute.

OpenID id said...

You cannot talk about intersections without mentioning Birmingham's Spaghetti Junction!

Blogger Konfrst said...

What about Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta, GA?


Blogger Josh said...

Great blog! That one in Minneapolis of course isn't getting as much use these days because it is directly south of the 35w bridge that collapsed last summer.

Blogger Don Fernão said...

The image of this traffic jam at São Paulo it's definitely a good sample of what's going on every day here. Not to mention the ridiculously small tube lines and the lack of attention that mayor-house and state-house are giving for mass transport. Instead, they push car production by having a rotative system where you cannot drive your car in one day of the week during rush hours (depending on your car's plate last number: 1's & 2's can't drive on Mondays, 3's & 4's on Tuesdays and so on...). What happened is that who can afford, is buying another car to drive every day. Bloody dumb!

Anonymous Johnny said...

That intersection in Minneapolis is .5 km from the 35W bridge collapse. I quit my job when that happened- traffic here is now horrible.

Blogger marc's stuff said...

and they call the geniouseses that design them roads/intersections experts ???

LOL UNREAL !! wheere they get their Urban planning degrees from??? as a prize inside a bag of Lay ??? Im amazed you missed bangkok !!!!!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

bangkok definitely deserves one ... but wierd how they totally missed out the unbelievable spirals of saudi arabia during the hajj. I was witness to how chaotic it gets there during the hajj. I was stuck in a traffic jam for 8 hours. the distance i was travelling was approximately 7km. *to think. the movement of 3 million people in the same direction all trying to get to another point before midnight.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Railway Diamond Crossings.

There is one in Newark , Nottinghamshire where the East-Coast mainline crosses the line from Nottingham to Lincoln. For years there were arguments between the individual railway companies that owned these two lines, with accusations that The East-Coast trains were given priority because that company operated the signals that controlled the crossing.

Blogger Henrique said...

God, I was in that crossing at Sao Paulo, Brazil at the same time that person took the photo. Yes, I'm from Sao Paulo, Brazil!

It took more than an hour to drive a single block!!!

Anonymous Dave said...

This is the Aston Expressway in Birmingham england. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=aston+expressway&sll=54.162434,-3.647461&sspn=13.303156,51.328125&ie=UTF8&ll=52.510762,-1.863856&spn=0.006373,0.014462&t=h&z=16

Blogger Jason said...

Seven Corners, VA has this nice intersection, for which it is named: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=seven+corners,+va&layer=t&ie=UTF8&ll=38.87189,-77.15548&spn=0.022486,0.040169&t=h&z=15

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Anonymous George said...

The magic mushroom roundabout, theres 2 in the county i live in alone, the biggest being the Greenstead roundabout in Colchester.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is only half of the I35W/I94 intersection in Minneapolis. The roads run next to each other for about half a mile to the east of the picture and then do roughly the same samething they do in the picture.

Anonymous Marc said...

This one in Frankfurt is crazy too, especially since it's so bafflingly complex for a intersection of two freeways that could be much simpler, imho:
I hate going through it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of those pictures are a walk in the park compared to mexico city. you obviously have no whatsoever notion of what is traffic.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Turcot Yards Interchange" (due to be torn down sometime soon because they discovered putting the drains inside the concrete wasn't such a bright idea after all) is an interesting one too. Not the most convoluted but it's up there. It might help to decode it if I mention that the highway leaving to the west is actually contra-sense. That is, you drive on the left...

Anonymous Blackplague said...

None of the interchanges mentioned on this article or by the other posters come close to this one in Newark NJ.
I've looked for ages to find a one
that is more insane than this,
and I just couldn't. In my opinion
this is the worst designed interchange anywhere in the world.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are more than three magic mushroom islands in the UK
is Colchester:

and as for diamond crossings here is the double diamond at newark.

Blogger Maya said...

What, no Cairo traffic?

Like so. And some more.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one on the A13 by Canvey Island

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a bunch of underpasses in Arizona that resemble the "humorous solution". It's a good thing Arizona is a desert, because they fill up with water when it rains!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was in bangkok in february when it was offically declared (by head of traffic police) that it is NOT bad traffic, until you stay in the same spot and do not move for ONE hour.
Additionally, they have many officers posted on roads to hospitals that are trained to deliver babies in cars! One officer being interviewed had delivered 2 babies in february alone. Gotta love Asian traffic...

then we could talk about Saigon on a Saturday night... or even Seoul...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was in bangkok in february when it was offically declared (by head of traffic police) that it is NOT bad traffic, until you stay in the same spot and do not move for ONE hour.
Additionally, they have many officers posted on roads to hospitals that are trained to deliver babies in cars! One officer being interviewed had delivered 2 babies in february alone. Gotta love Asian traffic...

then we could talk about Saigon on a Saturday night... or even Seoul...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Grandview Triangle in Kansas City? Not the biggest, or even the nastiest, but pretty hairy to drive through even if you're a local.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've managed to live through spaghetti junction. My hubby was following me in a semi and missed the exit. I didn't see him for 4 hours. I was the one driving on a learner's permit.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone ever hear about a place called "Los Angeles" ...

there are these intersections about every 5 miles...

check this one out as an example...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These speghetti junctions are far better than the intersection of 22, 30, 65, 279, and 376 in Pittsburgh, PA. They all merge together for 1/4 mile and then split apart again. In that short span, everybody frantically changes lanes. Looks orderly on the map, but it's a total mess.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are three intersections like this in UK: in Swindon, London and in Cardiff, near Southampton."

I can honestly say that there isn't one in Cardiff. Sorry to disappoint.

Blogger mehugtree said...

anyone know where #2 from the traffic jams is?


that's nuts!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta (85-285) is pictured in another section.

That isn't a petro station pictured, it's the Port strike.

Also, what about Los Angeles? New York? New Jersey? Or horror upon horrors, CHICAGO!!!!!

Blogger Dr Chewbacca said...

Very interesting selection of pictures ! Thanks for this article.

Anonymous SaraAbigail said...

Now I'm grateful to live in Los Angeles!

Anonymous Jennifer said...

Wow, crazy intersections! Also, check out this cool animated video about how traffic jams work:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahahahahaha...no one mentions those terrible places in India where people get stuck for many hours...Gurgaon for example...Delhi and many others...

Anonymous Nitz said...

I remember traffic jam #7! it was one day in Bucharest when traffic lights had failed in a major intersection. Eventually some people got out of their cars and started to direct traffic until it cleared out a little bit.

The jams in Bucharest are not that frequent, but when they do happen, you can get stuck from hours.

From my own experience, though, Bangkok is far worse...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The children from the afterschool program at Shenandoah Park were happy to sacrifice their Halloween party this year so that the money for the party could go to a better cause like the construction of more traffic circles in district 4.The children understand that unlike four way stop signs traffic circles are much more memorable because they cost more and they require a life time of maintenance.

Blogger Brian Kurtz said...

And I thought traffic in Detroit was bad.

...of course, it doesn't look like there's a lot of pot holes in 'dem there roads.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the poetic point of view of Jacques Tati on traffic jams and intersections :

Anonymous Candidato a la Gobernatura por el estado de Veracruz said...

Actually, the China one looks pretty fun (the giant loop one). Chicago's isn't that bad- I'm not even from there and I figured it out on the first try. At least all the exits are on the right side. All the others would definitely give a headache.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that these traffic jams look like swastikas? I'm just sayin...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha- I grew up in Swindon, weird to see the magic roundabout here. It's really not that confusing. That said, everyone who learns to drive in Swindon has to have the magic roundabout as part of the test route, so I got pretty used to it :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look up Fall River, Massachusetts, USA. The City Hall building is literally over the highway. Its the only city hall over the highway in the US, and possibly the world.

Anonymous David said...

Hi! Re the interesting railway track layouts and diamond crossings, Newcastle station in the UK used to have the most remarkable and complex track layout. It has since been completely re-done into something much simpler - but here's some pics of the original:





Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nice Chicago arrangements" are ramps either too short to accelerate to traffic speed, or filled with more traffic, not moving. The North end of that section is Hubbard's cave, a tunnel under rail tracks that is below the level of the Chicago River, and regularly flooded.

Anonymous gaffer said...

the 5th picture is also from Bucharest , Romania .

these kind of jams don't happen as often as they used to though... which is good. but it was also funny as i had a good reason to skip school. but that was like 5-6 years ago . time flies.

another thing : why doesn't it show the date on the posts ?

Blogger Benumea Maples said...

What about real traffic engineering? A mean solutions!

Here is a great link to that effect :



Blogger Benumea Maples said...

Traffic jams solutions!



Blogger Damien said...

The Minneapolis intersection shows Interstate 94 (horizontal) intersecting with Interstate 35W (vertical). A major and complex intersection. YET, if you are traveling west on I-94, you CANNOT exit to go north on I-35. Which makes it one of the dumbest and most frustrating intersections of two major Interstate highways in the US.

Anonymous Rachel S. said...

Yikes, did I miss it or did you miss Bangkok? Just about the world's worst place for traffic jams.

I should know, I've lived in Bangkok for 10 years and spent half my life sitting in one :)


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