The 60-mile Chinese traffic jam may be the longest example of gridlock, but it's not the only time our often fragile transportation infrastructure's failed us. What's the all-time worst traffic jam?
For sheer awfulness it's hard to mess with the Hurricane Rita evacuation, which killed 31 people, or more than four times the number of people who died from the direct impact of the landfalling storm. It was a perfect recipe for chaos, with the strongest storm ever to form in the Gulf of Mexico bearing down on the fourth largest city just weeks after everyone witnessed what a weaker Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans. Rather than follow the evacuation orders, which were designed to let the people closer to the coast evacuate first, everyone left simultaneously and spontaneously. Roads were quickly overwhelmed as more than a million people tried to crowd the same three highways. It took some people 28 hours to travel the distance from Houston to Austin; it's normally a three-hour trip. To make matters worse, gas stations were out of fuel and the heat index reached into the low 100s. By death count and scope it's clearly one of the worst, if not by total time (it cleared up after 36 hours).
Can you do worse? Deadlier? Longer? Bigger? Let's get gridlocked.
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