The Worst Streets In North America

Members of the The New Urbanism movement have compiled a list of the most sprawling and pedestrian unfriendly strips of asphalt and concrete in the nation.


The New Urbanism is a movement that seeks to overcome the ugly sprawl that has overtaken our urban environment. Many of the people who are a part of this movement engage in a cyberspace discussion group using email. The members of this email group include architects, town planners, developers, members of the academic community and common citizens. As part of this discussion, we had a contest to find the Worst Streets in North America. Here are the basic criteria for inclusion in the list of Worst Streets:

  1. The right of way has to be extremely wide. The minimum is 4 lanes with a center turn lane, but wider is better (or actually worse).
  2. There must be signs everywhere of different types and sizes, tall ones, short ones, flashing ones, etc.
  3. There must be huge parking lots in front of the stores. It helps to have weeds, chain-link fences and dumpsters prominently featured.
  4. The stores themselves must be cheaply built single-story buildings resembling shoeboxes or refrigerator boxes. An occasional two or three story building is allowed.
  5. No greenery, other than weeds and retention ponds, is allowed unless it is poorly kept up.
  6. No sidewalks are allowed unless they are right next to the road where cars are going at least 45 miles per hour.
  7. Special bonus for huge intersections with double turn lanes and traffic lights with two minute waits on red.

With this as the basic criteria, here are our nominations. Each nomination includes a short commentary describing why the street belongs on our list. Note that they must all meet the above minimum criteria to be considered.

Top Ten Worst Streets in North America (in no particular order).

Pulaski Highway (US 40) in Northeast Baltimore County (Maryland)

"All the usual sprawl problems, plus it's economically decayed like the worst of an inner city. Lots of dead strip malls and dead superstores. My former place of employment was a converted warehouse in an industrial "park" in the midst of this. I've felt just as threatened at times going for lunch at the nearby strip mall as I've felt in any gritty urban neighborhood. I think this is the future, and it doesn't look good."

US 192 South of Walt Disney World (Florida)

"It is the most "self-aware" ugly street in the country. As the sprawl grew east for 10 miles, somebody noticed there was no sense of place. Of course. But the lack of place was so severe that nobody could figure out where they were, and business suffered. So they erected these giant, cartoonish mile markers. Now people know the difference between Days Inn at mile 6 and Days Inn at mile 8."

North Breazeale Avenue in Mount Olive (North Carolina)

North Breazeale Avenue, N.C.

"This is the miserable instance of "mixed use"... Derelict feed mills next to used car lots, next to homes, next to pawn shops, next to laundromats... all scattered to-and-fro, close and far from the curb and surrounded by treeless squalor. No sidewalks, few destinations. Land use is so poor there is a drive up ATM taking up nearly 3/4's of an acre. No inspections when most of it was "developed": many buildings were built by Spanky & Alfalfa, LLP."

Calgary Trail in Edmonton, Alberta

Calgary Trail"A single-minded testament to unbridled sprawl that has transformed the southern entrance of Edmonton, Alberta into three miles of newly constructed, auto-oriented hell. The Calgary Trail is in fact two six-lane roads, one going north, the other south. In between is seemingly every big-box franchise you've ever heard of and every highway-oriented use that needs lots of parking, because that's all there is. Despite the sidewalks, you are not really meant to walk here, not even to the business next door. The effect is numbing, and entirely hostile to anyone who isn't on wheels."

Red Deer, between Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton"It is like a miniature replica of Atlanta's suburbs. The local pride in West Edmonton Mall is mind boggling to someone from Atlanta (the huge mall capital of the universe) Calgary has strip-mallish development every bit as dispiriting as every Sun Belt city. And Alberta is one of the few places in Canada where I've had cars repeatedly refuse to yield the right of way to me as a pedestrian."

Buford Highway in Chamblee, Atlanta (Georgia)

"Buford Hwy. (an arterial rather than a true highway, despite its name) has all the signs of ugly suburbia that you ask for, but is special in two respects. First, it has no sidewalks EVEN THOUGH (unlike in most suburbs) there are lots of people who don't drive. Because Chamblee is dominated by low-income recent immigrants, 16.7% of Chamblee households don't have cars -- and many of them have worn a dirt path through the grass flanking Buford Hwy. Second, not only are there no sidewalks, there is sometimes not even the grass/dirt path; parts of Buford Highway have shrubbery blocking pedestrians' path instead of a grass/dirt path."

Jimmy Carter Blvd. in Atlanta (Georgia)

"... is Buford Highway, only with lousy restaurants. It approaches the physical limits of unsightliness... Not even the Republicans around here contend that Carter deserved this!"

Telegraph Road in Detroit (Michigan)

"This scar-upon-the-earth runs through the suburbs of Taylor and Dearborn Heights. There are other "worsts" in America that are wider, and still more that are longer, but when it comes to overall execution (pun intended), Telegraph Road ranks right down there with the rest."

"[It is] an other-worldly horrible place, like something out of Terminator. A cavernous, roaring trench, ringed in chain link fencing, straddled by squalid suburban decay."

PA Route 611 in SE Pennsylvania (southern Bucks to Montgomery County)

"A glorious tribute to crass commercialism, complete with setbacks large enough to land a Cessna. I had the pleasure of commuting along this nightmare for two years and nothing about this road was redeeming. Sidewalks are non-existent along this stretch of state roads according to Penn DOT standards."

Mingo Ave in Tulsa (Oklahoma)

"Actually, most of the major arterials in Tulsa are absolutely horrific and would be excellent contenders."

Other Nominations include:

  1. International Drive in Orlando
  2. Pines Boulevard in Broward County, Florida
  3. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa
  4. Route 1 outside of Princeton, NJ
  5. US 101 in California
  6. Route 1, the "Boston Post Road" east of NYC through Bridgeport and New Haven

The Special City Award - Atlanta

The Atlanta metro area gets a special award by having the most streets nominated. In addition to Buford Highway and Jimmy Carter Blvd. The Atlanta area is home to Peachtree Road, Roswell Road, Barrett Parkway, Cobb Parkway, Memorial Drive, Alpharetta Highway and all of the roads around Perimeter Mall. These are all excellent examples of ugly, car-choked suburban streets. Because of the many nominations, we have designated Atlanta as the Worst Streets Capital of North America.

How About Your City?

Does your city have one or more streets that belong on the Worst Streets list, or do you have a photograph of one of the streets named above? Please send us your nominations for the next version of Worst Streets by submitting your nomination using the "Write A Comment" form at the bottom of this article (photos can be emailed to info@planetizen.com). Remember that your nomination must meet the basic criteria and have something extra to make it one of the very worst. Include the name of the street, the city or area where it is rotting away, and a description of why it should be included as one of the Worst Streets.


Jim Colleran is a retired computer programmer with a great interest in New Urbanism. He lives in the Town of Tioga (www.townoftioga.com), a New Urbanist community near Gainesville, Florida. The CNU email list is not directly associated with the Congress for the New Urbanism (www.cnu.org), but has many members of this organization as participants. It is a discussion group that deals with issues related to New Urbanism.

Comments

Comments

Tulsa's roads

Having lived in Tulsa for a short while, I can attest that the road system there is quite awful. Many of the city's other arterials (not just Mingo) are a nasty sight. In fact, the whole Tulsa area has a "cheap" look to it when viewed from its arterial streets. And, when compared to the rest of the state, Tulsa's roads are pretty pathetic. However, the City is taking some steps to improve its roadway system.

South Bend, IN

Add Western Avenue in South Bend, IN. Horrendous!

Worst Streets-Calgary

I agree with Bryan Normandin and Don Swain about Calgary's streets and drivers. It is a given here that the civic government hasn't a clue about pro-active planning and transportation issues. The elected officials are too afraid of citizen backlash and the city "managers" don't care what the citizens think. This is the land of the motor vehicle and of "doin' bidness". Everything else, including quality of life, must take a back seat.

Tulsa Roads

I have lived in Tulsa almost all of my adult life and our roads are not as bad as you contend. The roads in Louisiana are much worse. We have a lot of road improvement projects going on right now.

Who Cares?

You've compiled a lot of criticism, but not provided any answers. What should we do, limit the growth of cities? Mandate 'pretty' buildings? We're making money, here in our ugly town. When we want beauty, we'll take a vacation to Tioga, where the freeways are lined with big pink ribbons and satin bows.

Worst Streets

I'm curious if the writer checked with Moule Polyzoides before naming streets. Moule Polyzoides are respected new urbanists and so their input would be necessary before narrowing the list to ten. As new urbanists, they have the responsibility of naming and blaming all the worst in our environment. Hope you checked with them, if you did not, then your results may be flawed.

Tulsa's Mingo Road

Having grown up in Tulsa, it's difficult to admit that your own streets make the Top 10 Worst List. However, I must concur about South Mingo Road. The auto-convenience nature of Tulsa's 1960's through 1980's development is deplorable, only to be outdone by our capital city neighbors down the pike. Tulsa actually has nice streetscapes .... just not the square-mile-grid arterials.

Cgy Trail and them polite drivers

As Edmonton explodes idiotically Southward, Calgary Trail is just going to get worse. Is South Edmonton Common bad now? Wait until the "Heritage Valley" mega-residential antfarm gets built and 80,000 2-car SUVer families roll in.

There used to be two interesting features to Calgary Trail, both now destroyed.

First is the old Ellerslie grain elevator which used to greet (and bid adieu to, I suppose) people on their way to or from the International Airport (which is at least a half-hour motor out of town for some reason lost in the mists of the 70s, and the core-situated Municipal Airport has been closed to all but the smallest commercial charter traffic after an insane plebiscite). There was no will to save the grain elevator, an Alberta symbol and charming landmark, but lots and lots and lots of money at hand for roadbuilding to suit big-box megasites. Sigh.

The second victim, more personal to me, was the long strip of light-industrial alley between Whyte Avenue and Argyll road. Maybe I'm perverse for loving that rusty stroll, but it was a heal of a lot more "honest", I guess, than the Save-On-Foods, Home Despot, Staples, etc parkinglot hellscape that wercked it.

Perhaps folks enjoying this impromptu thread will get a kick out of this Calgary Trail tidbit: after wreaking a wholly divisive trail of destruction (it's nearly uncrossable by the unwheeed) across miles of Edmonton (technically miles of province, since it becomes Highway 2 after leaving town), carrying hundreds of thousands of vehicles with it, it just... ends. It hits the river valley (an aberrant fluke of foresightedness in this city of micro-term planning retardedness) and just shotguns out into a maze of valley intersections and bridges, reforming itself somewhere beyond the (empty) downtown and continuing North until it (I'm guessing here) plunges into the Arctic Ocean.

And as for them polite drivers? My theory is that their accomodation of pedestrians in Edmonton is because the latter is so rare in this city of fanatic drivers. Much like mountain-parks tourists who pull over for every sheep, goat, elk or marmot they spot on their way to buy faux-Inuit design "CANADA" sweatshirts in overpriced giftshops, Edmonton drivers who yeild to pedestrians are simply slowing to gawk. I'm surprised they don't try to get photos of their children feeding me Doritos, though this would certainly be welcome.

TransCanada Highway - Revelstoke to Banff

Its not fourlane, which probably makes it worse, but this strech of road is so twisted its sick. The worst strech is probably the 20 km just east of Golden where from my experience people feel its necessary to drive between 30 and 50 km/hr. I would say the large number of albertians who have no idea how to drive a mountain road drastically aid the huge problems this highway has. There is currently a group based out of Revelstoke creatively called Fix the TCH. I believe their goal is 4 lanes from Sicamous to Golden which who cost so much its unthinkable but would probably help to stop the 500 accidents a year on this 200km strech.

Boulevard Tacherau/ Brossard, Quebec

I can't believe I forgot about this one. It must be a least 12-15 miles long. It is an 8-10 lane road with a continuously repeting string of every single chain store on Earth (Poulet Frites Kentucky, etc.). Cheesy pre-fab tract housing sprawls for miles behind the parking lots and commercial strip. I am very rarely lost, but this stretch threw me into complete and utter deja vu and confusion.

Edmonton and racism and more

Racial Bias, well considerring Edmonton is probably 90 something percent white I can't see there being a racial bias.

In truth the problem is worse then just urban sprawl, the city designers (if that is really what they do) have made it not only hard for pedestrians but pretty close to impossible for motorists as well. All in all as a resident I try to avoid that area as much as possible.

PS: A suburb of Edmonton, Sherwood Park seems to believe in building and building and building more strip malls even though a fair amount of them are under utilized

Calgary Trail & El Camino Real

Completely coincidentally, my spouse and I were discussing last night whether El Camino Real in northern California (at least, the part in Santa Clara that we were on) is worse than Calgary Trail.

The writer who pointed out that Edmonton drivers are actually extremely pedestrian-friendly is correct, and it was one of the first things I noticed when I moved there.

Still, the city is quite car-oriented, and it has the widest streets I've ever seen.

Rt. 1 in and around College Park, Maryland, is pretty bad, too.

Canadian highways

First things first: Calgary Trail is a horrible, horrible thing. Anyone who disputes that is blind either through pride or some other vice. That being said, the section of Calgary Trail targetted by the website - which does infact reach 6 lanes in multiple places - is nowhere near as bad as many other arteries. It is however, undoubltably a pedestrian hell.

That all being said, there are far worse streets in Edmonton, in Canada, and in the States as well.

In Edmonton, Yellowhead trail makes no pretense at friendliness for most of its length, with the nicest parts being underpasses at some major intersections. 170th, mayfield, fort road, and others are also pretty bad. Even stony plain road, and whyte avenue have bad stretches...

In Montreal, the Metroplitain, the Ville Marie, are car hells and represent huge gashes in the urban fabric of the city. The 401 in Toronto gets so big you can't see beyond it. They make the sterile stretch of road called calgary trail look wonderful. Even the 401's 16 lanes are nothing compared to some of the interstates in the usa. Of course, the criteria disqualify them from the list, as should the size of the buildings lining calgary trail...

Calgary Trail

Please don't pay any attention to the Edmonton boosters misguidedly up in arms re. your comments on Calgary Trail. I've lived here most of my life, and I love it... but Calgary Trail is, indeed, an "auto oriented hell." Kudos for your honesty.

Followup on Red Deer AB

Since two residents of AB commented on my observations about driver's attentiveness to pedestrians, and both agreed I was wrong, I have to assume I was just the victim of a string of bad luck, so my apologies to the drivers of Alberta. The violations did occur, and it's easier to remember those than all the times people did stop. A consolation is that it's rare for a driver in Atlanta yield to a pedestrian under any circumstances.

As for the rest of the comment, I want to temper it somewhat by saying that AB has a long ways to go before it becomes Atlanta North. The cores of both Calgary and Edmonton seem reasonably healthy (at least to this tourist) and the ratio between the city and the sprawl are nowhere near Atlanta proportions yet. But y'all seem to have a strong economy, which can mean lots of money to do stupid things with, and a stroll along that big access road near the mall in Red Deer might be a good wakeup call for your decision-makers.

The comment about me speaking from the perspective of a tourist was correct. I spent two weeks buzzing between Calgary and Edmonton. But in addition to the obvious natural beauty and unique history I observed, I saw an alarming amount of stuff that would have been right at home on Atlanta's outskirts.

North Roan, Johnson City TN

Johnson City hasn't gotten to the "big city sprawl ugly" stage yet, but the business section of Roan Street is hellish! And it's hugely pedestrian-unfriendly, even with the sidewalks abounding. Unless people know the ways of that road, there is doom to be held. The "directional" arrows are faded beyond visibility. There is no way to see which lane(s) are turning lanes, and many are "turn OR straight". For the newcomer, there is no way to know how to get where. The businesses have hardly a parking lot away from the road, and many you can only reach by timing it just right from one direction. Thankfully though, this is a short 3-mile section. But it's worth noting, for the awareness of anyone visiting the otherwise mostly-lovely area.

Mumford Was Right - Add Phoenix

Phoenix is the ugliest city and deserves a Dishonorable Mention at the very least. Specifically, Grand Avenue would have to be H.P. Lovecraft's version of the Champs Elyse.

Worst Roads - Houston

Have you ever been to Houston? I cannot believe that in a city that is so dependent on the "car" (there is no mass transit to speak of). The fact that this city cannot get with the program and keep its roads in decent shape is completely beyond me. Pick a road, any road.....chances are it needs work. And the traffic?!! Who were the city planners for this city? Who in their right mind would have a 5 lane freeway (59) narrow down to two lanes due to an offramp? I can't take it, I tell you, I just can't...!

It is time to move back to New York City and take the subway...!

Worst Streets in Alberta

Edmonton's Calgary Trail south is in the same group as Calgary's MacLeod Trail south through the Midnapore district. What was once a quiet little town on the outskirts of Calgary has been swallowed up by the sprawl and the only access through the area has become a congested snarl with huge shopping "sprawls". Access to the private homes east of the main drag is also a nightmare as the surface Light Rail Transit causes traffic jams all along the strip.

Calgary Trail: Not as bad as you say it is

And yet it's actually worse. There were a few inaccuracies in the reports on Edmonton. Calgary Trail never reaches 6 lanes in both directions. At most I believe it is four. There have also been attempts in the last few years to beautify the Trail with flowers, the planting of trees, and incentives to businesses to clean up their lots (many of which are light industrial). That being said, it is undoubtedly an ugly strip, all the moreso since Edmonton city council is thinking of renaming the northbound street "Gateway Boulevard" since it is the major (and therefore showcase, I suppose) road into our city. I think it has been realized that Calgary Trail is unattractive, but this city is so wedded to the automobile that no drastic changes are willing to be made. The beautification projects, while admirable, have been oriented towards prettying up the place from the perspective of DRIVERS, not pedestrians, and all of the new development has been decidedly big-box, replacing the decrepit and weed-ridden industrial lots with clean but asphalt-laden parking lots. The newest development, South Edmonton Common, of which there is a picture in the top ten list, is the worst example of this. I'm sure it is not a development unique to Edmonton: hectare upon hectare of parking lot, broken up by massive big box stores as large as 150,000 sq. ft. Traffic at the nearby intersection of Calgary Trail has become so bad (23rd ave. where the Common sits, is a major turnoff onto the Trail for people going to the airport) that city planners are discussing putting in cloverleaf interchange complete with overpass to deal with the problem.

Edmonton is a mess, although the man from Atlanta had a decidedly tourist view. He seemed to think that all Edmontonians are proud of our automobile oriented city. On the contrary, I think most people in town take a perverse pleasure places like that paragon of the parking lot, West Edmonton Mall: there is no one here who believes that it is attractive. We know it is garish, and it has largely killed our downtown. What little pride we feel in it comes from perversity: the sort of pride a smalltown has for it's "Largest Pyrogy on a Fork" statue, or the "Largest Tomahawk in the World" monument (both of which can be witnessed within a few hours drive of this city). While it is ugly, it is one of the few things that our city is known for, and therefore we feel we have to take some pride in it.

As for the same gentleman's problems in having the right of way yielded to him, he must have just had bad luck. Alberta's drivers are notorious in Canada for disregarding laws, running reds, not signalling, etc... but when it comes to pedestrians, I find the attitude is reversed. I have regularly had people stop in the middle of busy roads to let me cross, when I was not even standing at a cross-walk. I find drivers often treat other drivers disrespectfully, but when it comes to pedestrians, most are very courteous, sometimes to a fault.

So, at the end of this long-winded submission, this contest is admirable in drawing attention to problems related to sprawl, but it seems a bit misleading to me. Some of the submissions above seem to be rants, and not thoughtful discussions of the problems in these cities. The offerings on Edmonton made it sound like a nightmarish mess of freeway and parking lot, which may have some truth to it, but is certainly not a completely accurate representation.

Ten worst roads

I find it entirely lacking in judgement that this list was compiled and included two sections of the same highway between Edmonton and Calgary in Alberta. It seems the author is basing his judgement not reality but on what he feels should be user friendly HIGHWAY for pedestrians. I also find it ironic that roadways in Montreal and Toronto in Quebec and Ontario respectively are not mentioned since having seen both of them, are far worse than the two Canadian ones mentioned. Before the author contributed, it might be best if he witnessed a true picture of Urban sprawl before he condemns Edmonton to that judgement.

Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS

I nominate Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas (an affluent suburb of Kansas City) as a Worst Street. This is an area of textbook-quality unconstrained sprawl. The stores are ugly, homogeneous in appearance, and set back ridiculous distances from the road.

Worst Roads, Worst Drivers - Alberta

As a resident of Calgary, who has recently returned from Ontario. I agree with all your comments regarding the roadways of Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer. With the recent population boom, Calgary is a nightmare to navigate. This isn't because of the number of people, but because the city has put little effort into traffic planning and road maintenance.

To make things worse, Calgary drivers suffer from a complete lack of attention. Slow drivers in the left hand lane going well under the speed limit, indability to distiguish between yield and merge signs, "sleeping" when the light turns green (especially on advanced turning signals), and going through red lights are common occurences leading to "stupid" accidents. I have to disagree with your comment on the not yielding to pedestrians though. Drivers here will slam on the brakes for anyone on the sidewalk who even looks like they're thinking of crossing, especially at intersections without cross walks and in the middle of blocks.

Westheimer Avenue, Houston, TX

How could y'all forget Westheimer Avenue in Houston? It has to be one of the ugliest examples of poorly planned suburban sprawl in the nation. Try taking a walk-- from parking lot to parking lot-- and keep from getting killed as the cars coming into those lots pass through their 60-foot wide entrances!

Make it 3 votes for Route 30

I lived in Lancaster County, PA for three years and tried to avoid Route 30 at all costs. The ridiculous development along that corridor goes against everything that life in Lancaster County is supposed to be. Why on earth would you build fake Amish theme parks when the real Amish are literally up the street? Sadly, that same type of development has started to overrun the entire county. It won't be long before there are no real Amish in Amish country.

Ugly Streets: Calgary Trail

As a life long resident of Edmonton Alberta and ardent critic of my city's urban planning policies It is good to see that someone took the time to write about Calgary Trail and its problems. In the future this area will probably get worse due to a strong economy and due to approval of a new housing development(30,000 new residents)adjacent to Calgary Trail.

Personal Top 3: PA, WA, VA

I've lived in some great places, but witnessed some criminal planning:

I must second the nomination for Route 30 in Lancaster, PA as one of the ugliest, most dysfunctional eyesores ever rendered in asphalt. A travesty, and unfortunately a model for growth that is ruining my once beautiful hometown by the minute.

Route 99/Aurora Ave in Seattle is another zoning disaster. Not even the glimpses of the Cascades and the Olympics can make this road attractive...but the sprawl manages to detract from the view of Mt. Rainier - it's not the same when you see it through a Wendy's sign.

Lastly, Rt. 29 in Charlottesville, VA. Like practically every other road in the development-whoring sprawl state of Virginia, Rt. 29 is consuming the Blue Ridge foothills and Civil War battlefields like a cancer.

San Jose, Calif.

San Jose, a City that prides itself on its many stretches of four foot sidewalk, was once the site of some of the lushest and most productive orchards in the world. It is now a city of asphalt featuring many intersections of truly gargantuan proportions. One street ten lanes wide crossing another street also ten lanes wide at a skewed angle (thereby making the crossing even wider) is not unusual. These enormous Tiamnamon Squares for cars are often flanked by sidewalks no more than four feet in width, which makes perfect sense since no pedestrian in his right mind would walk there anyway. The intersection of Capitol Avenue and Aborn Road is a good example of San Jose at its most grotesque.

Look Behind the Makeup! Its Still Sprawl

The definition of an arterial highway calls for an emphasis on auto mobility. This fosters the high volume that always attracts highway commercial. The creteria in your article emphasized a trash look for eligibility. Don't relax if the arterial is beautifully landscaped! Look behind the attractive makeup plastered on the surface to see the dysfuntional, auto dominant pattern that yields a lack of walkability. That is the true test of livability.

Airline Hwy Jefferson Parish, LA

Airline Highway also has the added attraction of an open sewage canal. The whole length of the south side of the road is bordered by a 10-20ft wide drainage canal filled with sewage, trash, abandoned shopping carts and swamp rats.

Also I was amazed to see bus stops along the road (some serving women with baby carriages) with no sidewalks. People were crammed next to 55+ mph traffic.

Worst Roads in Colorado

28th st.in Boulder lined by strip national chains,huge parking ,anti -ped,and anti-bike access.Macerich as mall owner has abandoned a derelict shopping area .Only hope is the city may condem and lease it to Univ.of Colo. for its North Campus which may humanize the street which is actually a federal highway(U.S.36)leading to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Second nomination:Colfax Ave ,Denver ,Colo.The longest urban street in U.S.....WITH NEARLY 30 MILES OF rundown strip malls,congestion ,pollution,and a state legislature that fights heavy rail passenger service in favor of more roadway lanes.

The most characteristic feature of Colfax and its feeder streets are the seemingly endless sea of used and new automobile dealerships.Truly an ugly blight on the image of a Mile High City polluted so badly you cannot see the nearby ROCKY MOUNTAINS very clearly anymore.

Streets in Louisiana

Veterans Boulevard, Williams Boulevard, and Airline Highway (all 3 are in Metairie and Kenner, LA - suburbs right outside of New Orleans) meet all of the listed criteria. Need I say more?

A few more additions

As a transportation planner in Northern New Jersey, I can name several additions to this list. Route 22 in Union County, and Route 1 in Middlesex County. Route 22 in particular is pedestrian-unfriendly. Route 1 is like a big parking lot. There are many more in Northern New Jersey. Unfortunately, what makes this area attractive and caused people to move here has made traffic unbearable and diminished the quality of life here. As planners involved in improving economic development and increasing the quality of life, we have a challenge of reconciling the two competing objectives.

Military Highway, Norfolk, VA

Military Highway and its sister broadway Virginia Beach Boulevard have got to be two hopeless examples of sprawl in what is already the textbook example of metro areas unlivable to pedestrians. Both of those streets are five-lane federal U.S. highways with feeder roads and central and side turn lanes which eventually become ten-lane behemoths. On the sides rest hardware stores and strip malls with quarter-mile parking lots and often abandoned '70s big-box developments. In the meantime, the sprawl that progresses outward along the streets adopts a scant few new-urbanist ideas and integrates them into the same anti-pedestrian mess: What would have been a concrete slab amid a hundred acres of parking, becomes a mock colonial slab, lined with a few benches and trees, amid a hundred acres of parking. A mock Victorian McDonald's in a sea of drive-thru spaces.

It's nearly impossible for pedestrians to maneuver this mess. Traveling along the side I cringe to consider what it would be like to be elderly, or without a car, hiking this tangled web of badly maintained sidewalks, grassy hummocks and ditches serving no purpose outside of the designation of parking spaces and turn lanes, and endless asphalt, just to visit a doctor or buy a wrench.

This certainly isn't *my* freedom of choice being exercised.

Blackstone Avenue in Fresno, CA

Blackstone Avenue in Fresno, CA has got to be among the worst streets in the country. It is six lanes of absolute hell. Many of the intersections have huge sweeping "free right" turn lanes which allow motorists to turn without even slowing down below 50 mph. To walk is an absolute nightmare. Just to cross the street is a dangerous journey that usually leaves you stranded in the median island between 6 lanes or near-freeway volume traffic. What is very sad is when you see tourists (who are staying there on their way to Yosemite- they definitly don't come for Fresno) trying to walk around. I've seen up to 10 of them huddled on a little triangular island formed by one of the free rights looking absolutely petrified.

Blackstone is also our hooker street, which adds to its flavor. Its heyday was the 60s and 70s, so it is long past its prime. Shoddy suburbia is bad enough when it's new, but with age it only gets more pathetic. Manchester Center, our first mall which helped pull business from downtown, is now having its business pulled form the newer malls further north. In an attempt to jump start the place, the owners painted it the most digusting shade of peach that I have ever seen. They desperately need to get ahold of Dover Kohl and Associates!

Of course there is also the proliferation of signs and billboards, parking lots the size of Rhode Island, and every fast food joint in the world. The first McDonalds franchise in the world was on Blackstone! There are a lot of chain stores, which is bad enough, but these are the old chains which are being slowly bankrupted by the bigger meaner ones. A struggling "mom and pop" can make your heart ache, but a struggling chain store just makes your stomach hurt.

Route 1 Saugus, MA

I really think you are missing the point about "worst" streets and the North Shore Route 1 cornucopia. With very MINOR exceptions, each of those "roadside" attractions you mention are UNIQUE to this strange place. Route 1 is a major N/S route and was NEVER meant to have pedestrian traffic (at least not in the last 35 years.) To compare this 5 mile +/- stretch of "roadside entertainment" to an endless parade of McDonalds, BK, Wendy's, generic strip malls and nationwide superstores is like comparing apples to oranges. Is it tacky, distracting and some what idiotic? Yes. But, is it also a bit charming and authentic? Yes it is.

Where else can you see a genuine 4/5 scale replica of the Emperors Palace, a 300' long Tiki Tower, the leaning tower of Pisa, a converted schooner (into a restaurant - with attached wharf buildings and streetscape) and yes, a 100' tall neon cactus - you forgot the plastic cows! I have visitors who have a visit to route 1 on thier list of things to see and do.

When is the last time someone wanted to go and drive by the endless stretch of Burger shacks and pizza huts!

Viva la differance!

Great Streets

Jim Colleran's article brought back visions of my travels to Atlanta, Orlando and Broward County. We also have many candidates in Jersey which can be corrected and visually improved through sound land use policy and creative redesign. DOTs and the towns need to see the best examples of great streets and highways from around the nation to have examples for implimentation. Its OK to show the worst but lets also show the solutions to bad highways and streets. Such as portions of route 1 in Broward as a planted boulevard, Anaheim CA. at Disneyland recently reconstructed as seen in Plannig Magazine. Solutions were presented at the APA Conf in NOLA last week in Multimodal Strategies for Livable Corridors including LA, Baltimore and West Palm Beach. Audio tapes of session are available for purchase. Planners and urban designers should require developers to submit simulations of the street scape before and after views to sell their projects and then demand they exicute the street treatments. And thats all I have to say about that! For now at least.

Every arterial is a worst street

I find this exercise quite pointless since the main characteristic of commercial arterials is their uniformity and focus on private vehicular traffic. Therefore, most commercial arterials in North America are worst street and are not going away any time soon.

State Road 7, South Broward County, FL.

While Pines Boulevard is an excellent example of modern, auto-oriented hell, with beautiful landscaping, sidewalks to nowhere, and the most up-to-date franchise architecture, State Road 7 beats it hands down in the ugly department. Running for 7.5 miles from the Miami-Dade County line in the south to Griffin Road in the north, this scabbed-over laceration of the landscape pre-dates franchise architecture or landscape and sign codes.

The uses include all the warning signs of urban squalor squatting in erstwhile sunny suburbia: pawn shops, adult books stores, check cashing stores, punctuated by mom and pop auto service shops with unregulated signs (picture a ten feet tall, thirty feet long painted wall that proclaims "TRANSMISSION QUEEN" on it).

Land uses are so jumbled that a day care center is next door to an adult book store. The road has few sidewalks, no drainage, no landscaping and no sewers. Bus benches exist with no sidewalks leading to them and situated inches from 40 mile per hour traffic. Along the 1.5 miles within the Indian Reservation are multiple stands that sell cigarettes tax-free. These and most other uses have open curb cuts and many have parking spaces that back out into the State Highway!

Some customers of businesses, in order to get to another business directly across the street, will cut across the four travel lanes and center-turn "suicide" lane to do so. The architecture is 1950s and 60s era form-follows-function utilitarian one-story flat-roofed monotony, poorly painted, and typically with no landscaping...all this and a dead three-anchor enclosed shopping mall. What's not to like?

Four jurisdictions and a sovereign nation have conspired to perpetuate this visual assault, which the Florida Department of Transportation believes it will improve by widening to six lanes with a landscaped median (which, of course, translates to nine lanes at the intersection crosswalks)in five to seven years. Their project will include a 6 foot wide continuous sidewalk and 4 foot wide bike lane on each side.

But, you don't have to take my word for why State Road 7 is the worst stretch of road in North America...you can travel it yourself via a virtual drive on our website: www.sfrpc.com! You can even participate in the FDOT's road-widening process.

Worst Street in the Caribbean

If you count America's Caribbean territories, I wish to nominate Puerto Rico Road 3 (65th Infantry Avenue) from San Juan to Fajardo, PR - 29 unredeemed miles of suburban "hell in paradise" that happens to be the access to some of our island's major tourist draws like the El Yunque Rainforest, Luquillo Beach and the swanky Rio Grande and Fajardo hotels.

It varies from four to eight lanes and it's surrounded by all imaginable stateside big-box retailers and fa(s)t-food joints for most of the stretch. You can also enjoy the view of endless subdivisions of pillboxlike concrete houses, nearly a hundred gas stations, and all sorts of outdoor advertising - that usually gets in the way of the El Yunque views, making it a "study in contrasts". Needless to say, our planning commission has simply approved all this sprawl without citizen input...

South Jefferson Avenue, Newport News, VA

South Jefferson Avenue, Newport News, Va., six lanes with landscaped median, sidewalks abutting 45 mph, signs tall and short (but no flashing), remarkable for being so "close-in" desolate but even more for the singular nature of its car-oriented businesses; transmission repair, tire shops, muffler shops, carburetor shops, body shops, upholstery shops, endless, countless, and certainly the largest collection of aftermarket used car lots on the planet. If only cars could go there alone, sans driver. There's certainly more oil dripped into the soil here than was ever pumped out of Texas.

Worst streets- Amish Country

Try route 30 east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the heart of PA Dutch Country. A crass combination of fast food, seedy motels outlet malls, even an "Amish" amusement park, and various insundry businesses. Even has the honor of experiencing the most pedestrian deaths of any other road in Pennsylvania due to the three lane speedway that runs through it.

Worst Streets, Knoxville, TN

Add Kingston Pike, Broadway, Chatman Highway, Clinton Highway and Cedar Bluff Road in Knoxville, TN to your list. They all fit the bill.

Telegraph Road - Yuck!

Telegraph Road in Detroit ((shudder!)). From its obscene forest of tall, oversized roadsigns (each competing to block out and out-illuminate the next), to its canyon of tall chain-link fences lining each side of the road (nary a thought to sidewalks, although there is "room" to walk along side of the street on concrete ribbons that could be thought of as sidewalks ... maybe), Telegraph Road is less "road" and more of a hell.

Isn't it poetic that one of the nation's worst "streets" leads right past Ford's world headquarters?

FM1966 - Houston, TX

I once had the unfortunate experience of having to walk along a stretch of this sprawling commercial mess which was nearly impossible due to a lack of sidewalks.

Ugly streets-most of LA

The City of LA has some of the ugliest streets--and I've lived in and/or been to most of the major cities in the US. They are a characterized by uncontrolled business signage and abundant litter, compounded with bad paving and bad drivers. LA doesn't seem to understand the concept of left turn lights, either.

Worst Streets - No Racial Bias Here

Try Rochester Road in suburban Detroit. The 10-mile concrete swath of M-150 runs through the heart of affluent Oakland County between I-75 in Troy, through historic Rochester and on to rapidly developing Oakland Township. Declaring Rochester Road one of the worst streets in America requires no racial bias. With the exception of the formerly quaint, now overly trendy, downtown Rochester, this stretch of highway truly represents the worst of all things suburban.

Beach Blvd., CA

Beach Boulevard as it winds through the Cities of Stanton and Anaheim is one ugly stretch.

Route 1 Saugus, MA

This is the epitome of commercial sprawl. It is a six-lane divided road, with all forms of hideous Disney-esque signage. There is a 5+ story fake pagoda, a model of a wrecked ship, a 100 ft. lighted plastic cactus and a faux windmill. The most unique aspect of this road is the fact that not only does it lack sidewalks, but the entire length of the median is divided by a six-foot high chain link fence. This forces those brave enough to walk, and there are a few, to attempt to hop the fence and dodge 6 lanes of 55 mph traffic, or walk 1-2 miles out of their way to cross the street.

Worst Streets - California

I would nominate much of El Camino Real on the San Francisco Penninsula, particularly in Redwood City, San Carlos, Santa Clara, Millbrae. At least CA cities have some design controls, but overall a traffic-choked nightmare. Particularly when you see how other cities on the Penninsula do it so much better.

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