2 metro Atlanta malls make top 10 most congested list

Two regional malls in the Atlanta area have made a top 10 list that they may or may not want to brag about: They have among the nation's worst traffic congestion on Black Friday, the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving.

Lenox Square in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, and the Mall of Georgia in Buford, ranked sixth and 10th, respectively, on the TomTom top 10 list of U.S. shopping centers with the greatest slowdowns in average traffic speeds on that day.

Compiled by the maker of GPS devices, the list ranked Southpark Mall in another Southern city – Charlotte – as most congested. The data was generated by a service called TomTom HD (High Definition) Traffic that tracks real-time congestion, said Gaby Asmus, a TomTom spokeswoman.

“We just basically went back to Black Friday weekend in 2010 and compared that for weekends in December,” Asmus said in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Based on historical traffic data around Black Friday weekend, TomTom predicts that drivers are likely to see slowdowns up to 25 mph around their local malls this weekend," Asmus said.

Also, she said, “we were surprised some areas will see less congestion this weekend.”

Shoppers at the giant Mall of America outside Minneapolis-St. Paul, for example, are expected to enjoy less traffic this weekend than in December, based on 2010 data.

Of course, it’s no surprise that anything in the metro Atlanta would rank among the most trafficked.

Earlier this autumn, for example, the Urban Mobility study by the Texas Transportation Institute reported the average metro Atlanta driver wasted 43 hours in congestion last year, at a cost to the region of $2.5 billion. Though that’s an hour better than 2009, it was worse than the national average of 34 hours.

Metro Atlanta ranked 13 worst for traffic in the nation, down from fifth worse for 2005, when the average driver wasted 58 hours in traffic. A weakened economy was cited for the improvement.

Washington, D.C., was the nation’s worst area for congestion in 2010; its drivers spent an average of 74 hours per year stuck in traffic.

Here’s the TomTom Black Friday list of 10 most congested malls:

1 -- Southpark Mall – Charlotte

2 -- Franklin Mills Mall – Philadelphia

3 -- Freehold Raceway Mall – Trenton, N.J.

4 -- Holyoke Mall at Ingleside – Springfield, Mass.

5 -- Palisades Center – Palisades/Paterson, N.J. (New York)

6 -- Lenox Square – Atlanta

7 -- Woodfield Mall – Schaumburg, Ill. (Chicago)

8 -- Gurnee Mills – Gurnee, Ill. (Chicago)

9 -- Oakbrook Center – Oak Brook, Ill. (Chicago)

10 -- Mall of Georgia – Buford