Route 22

Get your ballyhoo on Route Twenty-Two!

In preparation for writing this post, I just spent WAY too much time researching the entire highway system of the United States (HOURS, I kid you not. who needs a life? I do!), most of it not at all relevant to U.S. 22.

Here’s a brief history of the American highway system, as summarized from Wikipedia (and unless noted, all links below are to their respective Wikipedia articles):

Back in the day, everyone got around by foot or by horse’n’buggy, so the roads were dirt.

Then, in the early 1900s, suddenly everyone had automobiles, and they needed slightly better quality roads to roll around on. So some folks started setting up auto trails, which could’ve been awesomely maintained by organized organizations or badly maintained by some random dude who could make a sign. You didn’t know ’til you drove it.

In 1926, drivers were like “this sucks, we want real roads” and the U.S. Highway System was approved. Hooray for organized maintenance! (And a numbering system that supposedly made some sense.)

By 1956, President Eisenhower was like, “dude, the Autobahn is WAY better than this shyte, we gotta keep up with the Germans” and the Interstate Highway System was officially spurred into existence by some important bill that authorized $25 billion to construct lots of new highways. Why new highways? ‘Cos these fancy interstates would be limited-access freeways, so you’d hopefully minimize the number of old ladies pulling out from the bank at 3mph into 40mph traffic and thus ruining everyone’s day. (Alas, this still happens on the U.S. and state highways.)

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2 Comments to “Route 22”

  1. Have you ever thought about a gig as a textbook writer? 😉

    Also, the auto trail situation of the early 20th century reminds me very much of the inline skating trail situation of the early 21st century. Sometimes you have awesomely maintained stretches of roller-nirvana. Other times, you have a painful wipeout waiting to happen. But you just don’t know until your favorite photoblogger posts about it. 😀

    • Good comparison! It also reminds me of the hiking trail situation around here— some trails, like the Watchung Reservation, are county-maintained and thus have actual workers to clean up after, say, blizzards in October that destroy half the woods. And some trails, like the Passaic River Park, are only maintained by those of us who hike it.

      …which reminds me— I actually haven’t checked out the Passaic River Park since the October blizzard, and I suspect it’s still a mess. I should go do some trail maintenance today.

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