Video: Ranking congestion
updated 7/3/2005 12:07:12 AM ET 2005-07-03T04:07:12

For Americans planning on traveling over the Fourth of July weekend beating traffic is most often a losing battle. With that in mind, the American Highway Users Alliance and the American Automobile Association have released a new report ranking the 25 most congested road trips.

Justin McNaull from AAA joined MSNBC's Alison Stewart on Thursday in advance of the weekend traffic deluge to discuss the list and share tips on holiday driving.

To read an excerpt of their interview, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "launch" button to the right.

Alison Stewart: How did you come up with this list?  What were the criteria?

Justin McNaull:  Well, basically we went out to the states' departments of transportation and asked them to tell us what were some of the most congested roads to get to the popular destinations. 

We did a little crunching of data to look at the total amount of delay associated with them and the amount of delay a driver coming through each of them could expect so we could not get completely drowned out by the biggest destinations but also end up with places like Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania ... Places that a lot of us haven't heard of but if you go there you know the traffic's pretty rotten.

Stewart:  Let's take a look at the top ten: The Oregon Coast, Tidewater Region of Virginia, Maryland and the Delaware Shore, Branson, Mo., Outer Banks N.C., Cape Cod, Mass., N.J. Shore, Napa Valley, Calif., Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country, and the Catskill Mountains in N.Y.

Aside from congestion, Justin, what do these areas have in common?

McNaull:  They're all great places to go but what you have is a handful of roads to get you in and out of all these and you have a lot more people that want to go to them than those roads can handle at peak times. 

The Oregon Coast, certainly from the East Coast standpoint, you say 'what's going on over there.'

You have just a handful of two lane roads to get you across the Coast Range.  From the inner (part of the) state where a lot of people are to the nice coastal (part of the) state and you have those little choke points. 

In the Oregon Coast for example, you have logging trucks, you have RVs, you have people with surfboards, a whole range of people trying to use the same roads and you don't necessarily have the turn lanes to accommodate certain bits of traffic, you don't have the intersection improvements, things like that which can help make these drives a little easier.

Stewart:  Is there anywhere I can go find alternate routes?  Is there anything I can do to avoid these trouble spots if they're on my vacation plans this summer?

McNaull:  Really, the best thing you can do is try to alter your travel times.  Try to leave a little earlier, wait and leave a little alter, stay a little longer.  Sometimes, you can find alternate routes.

But a lot of these places are bottled up, just because there is no other choice, no way to get there.

If you're going to be stuck in it like a lot of us are, you're going to just have to grin and bear it, factor in some good time for breaks, and keep the kids entertained.

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