Here’s an honor no American city wants: the place with the worst traffic congestion. Is there such an award? Well, not quite, but close. The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced nine semi-finalists for a federal program that will pour a total of $1.1 billion into a traffic jam-fighting program.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters told a press conference this morning that something “different, innovative and daring” is needed to fight traffic. (Hmmm, how about putting the money into mass transit, Mary?)

Here are the cities that made the cut:

» Atlanta

» Dallas

» Denver

» Minneapolis-St. Paul

» Miami

» New York City

» San Diego

» San Francisco

» Seattle

My bet’s on New York, with Miami as a dark horse. The loser — er, I mean, winner — will be announced in August.