Thursday, June 26, 2008

American Highways

I realized how amazing and well organized the interstate highway system was of the US when I was telling about it to N last month. The amount of science/mathematics involved in it is fantastic! To think up, plan out, implement such a big project and maintain it... totally brilliant!

While posting the photos of the bay bridge, which happens to be I-80, I realized this information is totally worth sharing with everyone who might not be aware of it. As many of you'd probably know and some might not, the highway structure in the US quite systematic and very well planned according to rules. Of course, like every other rule, these rules have exceptions too, but that's not important for now.

The major highways (aka the interstate highways) span the entire country and create a grid. The highways that run North-South are odd numbered and the highways running East-West are even numbered. So if you're traveling on highway I-80 (I is for interstate) you are either going East or West only, never North or South (direction wise only, not Geographically). Similarly, on I-5 which touches the borders of Mexico and Canada, you would be traveling either North or South only.

The odd numbered highways increase in number as you go from West to East and similarly the even numbered highways increase in numbers as you go from South to North. And of course they don't go any higher than two digits. Why? Because according to the system, the three digit numbers are used for other kinds of roads called auxiliary interstate highways which mainly serve the large cities. e.g. I-5 goes through the city of Los Angeles and I-405 connects to I-5 at two locations making a loop. These freeways also follow additional rules.

I am very impressed with this concept, this infrastructure, and love the way they have maps of almost every single area in this country available for general public. All of this just makes me hope and wish that this kind of structure (which I already know has been in making since quite some time now, but still there's a long way to go) and easily available information are soon part of Indian highway system too.

Just one of the reasons why this country is more advanced compared to any other country in the world.

5 comments:

Soham Shah said...

NAd it's fun driving down on I-5 from LA to San Francisco .. Hv done it 7-8 times ..

Put ur car on cruise, play some nice music and some cool
conversationswith ur buddies ... Yeah, I miss tht too..

Urv said...

Hmm.. The thing is when India reaches THIS level, America might have gone to the NEXT higher level.. Shu kehavu chhe aapnu?

chinmai said...

hey nice info.. but i had a little confusion..in ur 4th para u mentioned "The odd numbered highways increase in number as you go from West to East and similarly the even numbered highways increase in numbers as you go from South to North." but in ur 3rd para u are mentioning of
"The highways that run North-South are odd numbered and the highways running East-West are even numbered." .. is it a mistake or i was not able to get it ...

Shrooms said...

I was an urban studies major and have spent some time studying such things in college. If you're interested, read "20th Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape," by Owen Gutfreund (a former professor of mine), Oxford University Press, 2004.

Kanan said...

Soham, 101 is even prettier and much fun with less traffic but only little bit longer. Next time you’re in CA, do try to do that.

Urv, it doesn’t matter where we are in progress. If we can learn from others and avoid any mistakes, then it’s great. Our progress is not because of other people and it shouldn’t be. I believe in “jaagya tyaar thi savaar”. America and India can’t be compared in so many ways yet we tend to do so very often.

Chinmai, thank you. My mistake, I should have phrased it differently. It is true that "the highways that run North-South are odd numbered and the highways running East-West are even numbered." Then when we are driving on an even numbered highway (say I80) going from West to East the odd numbered highways that we cross on the way increase as we go East. Thus "The odd numbered highways increase in number as you go from West to East and similarly the even numbered highways increase in numbers as you go from South to North." Does it make sense? Sorry for the confusion.

Shrooms, thank you for the book name. I will surely check it out. :)