The Votes Are In: Omaha Abomination Voted Worst Intersection in the U.S.

Well, it was a tough competition for America’s Worst Intersection, with a lot of worthy contenders — the kind of intersections that would make an Olympic sprinter nervous. But the people have spoken — 468 of them — and in the end it wasn’t even close. Our winner is Omaha, Nebraska’s intersection of 132nd Street, Industrial Road, Millard Avenue, and L Street.

#1. Omaha, Nebraska: 132nd Street, Industrial Road, Millard Avenue, and L Street

Take one final look at this sad excuse for a public space, featuring no crosswalks and only the faintest traces of a sidewalk. Special thanks again to John Amdor for the submission. Fully 29 percent of voters, or 136 people, voted for this intersection.

In Transportation for America’s 2011 “Dangerous by Design” report on pedestrian fatalities, Nebraska actually ranked 48th, making it one of the “safest.” But we suspect that’s mostly because walking is unusual in this state. Looking at this picture you can understand why.

#2. St. Louis, Missouri: 141 and Gravois Road

With 98 votes (21 percent), our formidable runner-up was Missouri 141 and Gravois Road in St. Louis, pictured above. Again, we have dangerous channelized right turns and no visible crosswalks or sidewalks. Commenter Tom F made the case for this intersection being the worst of the worst by explaining that the bus stop requires employees and shoppers to cross this busy road to reach nearby big box retailers. “Imagine if you worked there and had to walk from that bus stop to work very day!”

T4A ranked Missouri the 17th most dangerous place to move around on two feet. More than 800 pedestrians were killed in this state between 2000 and 2009. Black people were about three times as likely to be struck down by a car while on foot than whites.

#3. Savannah, Georgia: Abercorn Street and White Bluff Road

Savannah, Georgia’s Abercorn Street and White Bluff Road was close behind with 93 votes. This is a confusing tangle, sidewalk-challenged and devoid of crosswalks. It bears a striking resemblance to our first-place winner. In a comment on this entry, Transportation for America’s Stephen Lee Davis wrote: “I voted for Savannah simply because of the crazy confusion of the curved lanes and the fact that I’m not sure how you would even go about illegally crossing the road on the east/right side of that picture. Terrifying.”

Georgia, home to one of the most outrageous pedestrian injustices of our time, the Raquel Nelson case, was ranked as the 10th most dangerous state for pedestrians by T4A. More than 1,500 peds were killed on Georgia’s roads between ’00 and ’09.

This competition was entirely crowd-sourced by the brilliant brain trust of our readers. We received eight nominations from across the country and they were all terrible.

We’d like to extend thanks to all our voters. Remember, we’re all winners, as long as we never have to cross these streets.

  • A comment on Reddit about this poll sums up the attitude of many: “Who walks in West O anyways?”
    (I feel obligated to note that my hometown does boast several charming and walkable districts (The Old Market, Dundee, Benson, parts of the 24th St strip). It was altogether a pretty great place to grow up.)

  • Katecavanaugh

    I agree John that Omaha has lots of great areas but we do need to be more pedestrian friendly.  I think that 90th and West Center Road is also a tough place to cross.  Congratulations on the shout out in the article.  I don’t like driving at 132nd and L Street and walking would be impossible. I have never tried it.

  • Anonymous

    On the other hand, Omaha’s Old Market is extremely pedestrian-friendly. 

    But West Omaha is a pedestrian desert, which will become a slum when fossil fuels get stopped, one way or the other.

  • Antherick

    ah, they’ll turn it into a giant roundabout after they put one at 50th and underwood.

  • Craig

    its not that bad. that is an industrial part of omaha. a lot of southwest omaha is like that. and oh and tom0063 that is never going to happen so cool  it on your big prophetic warnings about west omaha turning into a slum

  • Kate

    The one in Omaha is part of a highway. There is no reason why there should be crosswalks or sidewalks because it’s not meant for people to walk around there.

  • Dodgy

    You missed the best part of that Omaha intersection. The 30ft high retain wall at one corner built for a Wallmart. This intersection and the abysmal Walmart development actually lead to pretty strict new urban design standards in Omaha. So good from bad.

  • @Kate, wrong! many streets in Omaha are called “highways”, but one could never tell by looking at them. This autocentric ideology has to end now! Pedestrians should never be barred from any road or street (outside of an interstate). Also there is a crosswalk there, whether you like it or not.

    Though in the end it does not bother me as I avoid the wasteland known as west Omaha and it’s autocentric, anti people, planning.

  • Not even the worst intersection in omaha. http://goo.gl/maps/vJLqP

  • Willie

    I remember riding the bus to 108th and “Q” not too long ago.  Where I normally walk in the east part of Omaha I don’t have to worry about this.  I started to cross “Q” like it was nothin’, but I guess it wasn’t.  I had to backstep up the curb because I was invisible to the first guy turning left.  Then all of the people after him just followed, and I had to run across the street in the short amount of time between the red and green lights at the intersection.  The ignorance out there is infuriating.

  • WendyNE

    A bad intersection, but as a Nebraskan I can tell you that people do a lot of walking and running (just not at this intersection :).  Just had to comment on that, as I liked the article except for that comment.

  • Anonymous

    Been hit by a “failure to yield” driver at #1, It’s a bad one.

  • asten77

    They’ve got to be kidding.  I can name a dozen in the chicago area that are far, far worse than 132nd & Industrial.

  • asten77

    They’ve got to be kidding.  I can name a dozen in the chicago area that are far, far worse than 132nd & Industrial.

  • Knowltey

    @facebook-100001115946032:disqus  Actually wrong on saying that Kate was wrong in stating that it was a highway. Industrial Rd is just the city name for State Highway 275. It is quite *literally* a highway.

  • Knowltey

    @facebook-100001115946032:disqus Correction on last comment since I can’t edit, It’s US Route 275 rather than State Highway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_275

  • Lana517

    Greeting from Omaha – the nation’s worst intersection.  Wow – travel on it all the time and never give it a second thought. 

  • @Jay: now that is the worst intersection. Its negotiating with black magic to get east or west. Madness. 

  • Rtaylorwilliams

    Kelley Square, Worcester, MA: Worst intersection ever in terms of stress… 7 streets colliding on a barscene filled with drunk pedestrians is horrifying… I hear it has a surprisingly low accident statistic though… hm. http://tinyurl.com/amdlsqj

  • Gsrteggie

    The fact that going west it goes down to two lanes from 3, I can’t count how many people run a red left turn light and get t-boned by someone hauling ass in the right lane to cut in front of everyone. 

  • Whatever engineer / road planner thought those angled crossing lights was a good idea should be dragged out back behind the tool shed.   Worst road design idea ever. And they are all over the Omaha area.  Nothing beats pulling up to an intersection, stopping at the stop line and having to look at the signal through your sun roof because some idiot designer figured it’d save some cash by putting in one common post for the signal lights.

  • Poptartk1234

    As far as the comment that Omaha is 48th for pedestrian fatalities, yes it’s because in Omaha you can’t walk anywhere. There is an interstate which splits the city north and south and well into the 2000’s the street bridges over it didn’t have sidewalks just a 10 inch curb you had to walk with traffic whizzing by. Lived here all my whole life and been a lifelong pedestrian, this town blows for public transit or pedestrian travel. Many of the housing developments in the western part of the city dont even have sidewalks because at the time the extra concrete was considered unneeded and expensive, so in many parts of the town you walk in the street. Yes you can jog around your block or go for a walk in parts of the city but by and large getting somewhere walking? Give up, It’s a car only city.

  • morgan

    Just curious – if you want a pedestrian life, why would you stay there?

  • Poptartk1234

    home, family, job the usual reasons. many people choose to be a pedestrian many people do not but have to be.

  • Schwapdog

    Trusses are used when intersections get too wide for mast arms.  I’m wide open to designs that are an improvement.  Ahhhh, unneducated opinions are bliss….. Keep it up Big Al

  • doodle do

    Willie, 108th & L has protected left turn movements, the left turns go first, then the pedestrians get a walk cycle. When you started across the intersection like  “it was nothin”, did you bother to look at the pedestrian signal indicator to see if it was your turn yet?  Sounds like maybe you left out the crucial step.  When a car driver has a green arrow, they have the right of way based on the way signal phasing is set up, it’s called a protected phase.  You (the pedestrian) wait until that phase clears and you get a walk cycle to start across the street. That’s why all the cars behind followed the first one, they were doing what they should have done.  I’m all about bikes and peds having fair access, but we all have to learn the rules and coexist.

  • doodle do

    Hey Tom0063, what’s going to heat the Old Market when fossil fuels are gone?  Maybe we can put in lots of treadmills hooked to electric heaters and all the pedestrians can walk to keep the buildings warm.  Sounds like a great place to be.

  • Monkeymoo

    Troll

  • calwatch

    As an actual civil engineer ™ I have seen a lot wider streets with regular mast arms, especially in California and Arizona. Industrial Road is 110 feet wide curb to curb (why any road needs to be this wide is another story), and “nightmare” intersections like Valley View and Katella (https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=33.802723,-118.028113&spn=0.000856,0.001321&t=h&z=20, love that TRIPLE LEFT) are 20 feet wider.

  • BuddyGuyGuy

    Awesome. Btw, if anyone else in Omaha is interested in doing something about our city’s transportation, you can get involved with ModeShift.org. I’m betting this intersection gets added to the agenda soon. Thanks for the article.

  • BuddyGuyGuy

    ….make that modeshiftomaha.org!

  • IRC22

    The longest crosswalk i know of is 220 feet long at Marietta Parkway & Powers Ferry Rd in Marietta, Georgia. 

  • Joe R.

    In all fairness none of those intersections look like they’re in places where all that many people would be walking. The big parking lots are indicative of malls and sprawl and distances far too great for most people to walk. Perhaps there should have been some context when deciding the worst intersection. An intersection like any of those in NYC would be an abomination. In the suburbs it’s just business as usual.

  • IRC22

    The geometry of the crosswalk isn’t the only factor to consider but also how it functions (does it have countdown timers, are the pedestrian intervals long enough for a slower pedestrian to cross in time?).  Crossing Las Vegas Blvd @ Bellagio Drive  (145 ft crossing) has a large number of pedestrians crossing each cycle (easily 50-100 at heavy times) yet only has a 4 second walk. 

    Here is the paragraph in the MUTCD that allows for a 4 second walk time:
    12    If pedestrian volumes and characteristics do not require a 7-second walk interval, walk intervals as short as 4 seconds may be used.

    Completely vague guidance… my assumption is an engineer in Vegas was concerned about keeping strip traffic moving.  Long pedestrian crossings have a detrimental effect on vehicular traffic and capacity.  Long crossings are a lose-lose for both pedestrians & drivers alike. 

  • Ian Turner

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus : Of course there are very few pedestrians, anyone with any choice in the matter whatsoever would choose to drive under such circumstances. If you worked in one of those malls, would you choose take the bus in such an environment?

  • IRC22

    How bout Queens Blvd & 51st Ave in NYC… in 2008 there was a 370 ft long continuous crosswalk which takes 93 seconds for a pedestrian to cross walking at 4 ft/sec (from what i have read, pedestrians were given 43 seconds to cross).  It has since been restriped so that “safety islands” now split the crossing into sections. 

  • JM

    I hope these are all within the incorporated cities you reference (i.e. Omaha, St Louis and Savannah). If not, you need to change the location to the correct city/town/county.  It is bad practice to assign these to the nearest city, when that city government has no jurisdiction over said intersection.

  • JM

    Just looked and it appears that you have the correct jurisdictions for the Omaha and Savannah intersections, but the Missouri location is far from the St Louis city limits.

  • I can name ones that are way worse than those in the USA.  Lack of sidewalks or pedestrian crossing are not an issue if they intersection is in an area with no foot traffic.

  • IRC22

    I agree with that Daniel.  There’s a lot of foot traffic in Queens NY and i don’t know who’s bright idea it was to re-stripe the crosswalk at 51st Ave back in 2008 to create a 370 ft long continuous crosswalk.  By 2009, the crosswalk was realigned back to where it was so that “safety islands” split the crossing into sections.

  • Ash

    What I find most interesting about this article is that less than 500 people voted on it, yet an intersection in Omaha was voted the worst. This tells me that the blog receives a lot of traffic from current and former Omaha residents who are aware of this intersection, and therefore Omaha must be seeing continued growth and interest in non-vehicle transportation. I was impressed with the number of bike trails throughout Omaha (East and West) when I moved here, and am excited to see there is clearly a push for more pedestrian friendly options.

  • S. Tomel

    Umm, that intersection in “St. Louis” is actually in Fenton, MO, which is a distant, sprawling suburb of St. Louis.  Your caption is misleading.  

  • Grifma

    Hah….ironically, not the worst intersection in Omaha….maybe this is bad from pedestrian standpoint, but traffic-wise its got nothing on 108th and L, 90th and Dodge, 114th and Dodge, 90th and Center, 120th and Center, 132nd and Center, 144th and Industrial…and the list goes on and on and on in Omaha!

  • MontrealPlanner

    Of course it’s from a pedestrian standpoint. This website advocates cities for people instead cities for automobiles. I would even argue that a problematic intersection from an automobile perspective might just be a blessing in disguise. If an intersection is difficult to use for automobilists because of traffic calming, traffic light cycles that restrict flow, and other things of the sort… then we have the recipe for lowering performance. That’s good, because if performance were improved, it would trigger induced demand and increase the number of vehicles on the road.

  • cartokurtis

    That’s the real issue… is it that there is no foot traffic or planning has caused there to be no foot traffic.

  • cartokurtis

    I’ve lived here for quite awhile. This town is not pedestrian friendly. All those bike trails you rave about will not allow people who don’t use a car to get anywhere, they are for recreation alone. Transit is horrible as well. Having bike lanes and trails is wonderful, and Omaha has plenty, but they do nothing for any walkability other then recreation.

  • Sphinx Lightning

    I wish I would have known about this earlier… I would have nominated Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway/Oleson Road/Scholls Ferry Road intersection. http://goo.gl/maps/eh0sf

  • Jerry Briardy

    Born and raised in Omaha and still live here. I live about a mile from the intersection in question and cross it regularly, both in a car or on a bike or on foot. It is dangerous to say the least on foot and scary on a bicycle. I avoid it if possible. Not bad in a car though. I agree about the bike trails. They are really only good for recreation, they don’t go anywhere in particular. Most follow the creeks which drain to the Platte River/Missouri River confluence, which is to the southeast. But the city grid pattern is North-South, East-West, so almost any route you take on a bike trail is going to either take you away from where you need to get, or at least out of the way. What they need to do to make the trail pattern useful is to use the same logic the cars do. Trails on a flat course where there are railroads and Interstates, which go to the business centers. How they could do this, I don’t know. I’m not a city engineer.

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