(ARA) – Planes and trains may have their place in our society, but for the dedicated traveler there’s still nothing like getting in your car and taking a trip along America’s highways.
Half the fun of road trips, in the minds of many, is getting home and telling friends and family about the adventure – and the roads they traveled.
In the past, drivers’ road stories were largely told by word of mouth to a few people at a time. Now drivers can tell their tales to millions via the Internet. FavoriteRoad.com is a new Web site that features America’s favorite highways and byways.
The site encourages you to post your favorite roads and explain why you like them. Simply log on to submit a photo and story of your favorite road. Use links posted on the site to share your road via popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Your submission may even win a prize in contest giveaways.
The past year’s economic downturn has reintroduced the word “infrastructure” to our vocabulary. As a result of stimulus legislation passed in 2009, the federal government has allocated millions of dollars to specifically improve state roads and highways. And, with more affordable gasoline prices, people are increasingly using America’s roads for leisure travel.
What’s your favorite road? Log on and tell the world at FavoriteRoad.com.
A brief history of paved roads
The Babylonians are credited with the first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material. The ancient Greeks were also familiar with asphalt (the word comes from the Greek “asphaltos,” meaning “secure”).
Christopher Columbus landed off the shores of Trinidad in 1498 and discovered the famous Asphalt Lake, which would later be used on the Pennsylvania Avenue project in Washington, D.C. covering 54,000 square yards.
Macadam roads became popular in the U.S. for rural road construction during the 1830s and 40s. Belgian chemist Edmund J. DeSmedt laid the first true asphalt pavement in the U.S. in Newark, N.J. The Cummer Company opened the first central hot mix production facilities in the U.S. The first asphalt patent was filed by Nathan B. Abbott of Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1871.
World War I ended and the use of the automobile was steadily rising, but roads outside the city limits were frequently too muddy or dusty for travel. To fix this problem, road engineers used oils and asphalt.
The modern American turnpike is born. After World War II, full scale automobile production resumed along with major levels of road maintenance and new highway construction. By 1950, vehicle registration exceeded 40 million cars and 8 million trucks. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act and launched the Interstate System to create an infrastructure highway program unmatched anywhere in the world.
A national move to conserve energy and materials initiated a widespread interest in recycling of pavement materials; asphalt is now America’s most recycled product.
A traffic study by the World Road Association indicates that asphalt pavements are at least 4 decibels quieter than concrete pavements.
The U.S. population has increased 23 percent since 1990 and the number of miles driven has risen by 41 percent. Only half of the nation’s major roads are in good condition, based on an analysis of recent Federal Highway Administration data.