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American Highway Appreciation Thread



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,473 ✭✭✭KrisW1001

    "Dream"? You're kidding, right? There are more impressive roads in continental Europe (and the US) than this stretch of pretty bland suburban freeway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭Norteño

    Sure the M2 foreshore in Belfast is wider and more impressive than that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭cantalach

    Got back Monday evening from the 2 week road trip in CA and Nevada. We covered about 1,500 km which is not huge by US standards but enough to give a feeling for things.

    A recurring observation as we drove along was that a huge percentage of the freeway mileage in CA is in appalling condition.

    • Surfaces are bumpy, heavily patched, and noisy.
    • Lane markings are worn away in lots of places.
    • Shoulders at the median and on the right are strewn with debris, sometimes shockingly big items like parts of TVs and microwave ovens.
    • Safety 'furniture' is broken, dislodged, or missing.
    • Signage is battered and in some places has clearly been shot at.

    It doesn't come close to the quality of the motorways I've driven on in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. Our own M50 is superior in quality to 95% of the freeways I drove on in CA.

    End of empire stuff I'm afraid.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,921 ✭✭✭kirving

    The quality of German and UK motorways is poor in comparion to Ireland too, but to be expected given the traffic volumes really.

    End of an empire I don't think so, the US are investing in their highway and bridge network, over $350bn over the next few years. But yes they likely need much more. It's the cleanliness and general maintenance that gets me though - even in the richest states, they can't keep up with the litter.

    Drove to Corpus Christi last weekend, the new bridge being built is seriously impressive. 62m over the water, with the longest span being 500m.,-97.396252,3a,60y,311.78h,92.35t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1suMlnAX1vecRREpBLIr15Ng!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,886 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cookiemunster

    The US has ignored transport infrastructure maintenance for decades. It's now crumbling. Bridge collapses on major road and rail routes are a semi regular occurrence.

    They're spending now because they have to. And if Trump had won reelection then none of that would be happening. Biden got it through congress.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭Norteño

    How do you know Trump wouldn't have done the same if not more?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭cantalach

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,886 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cookiemunster

    Because he did absolutely nothing in the 4 years he was in power, despite promising to do so during the election. He wouldn't have done any different during a second term.

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭Norteño

    Ah right, I see.

    Lend us your crystal ball when you get a minute, would ya?

  • Registered Users Posts: 742 ✭✭✭Jayuu

    All of this infrastructure work is being done as part of Biden's support of the renewed push towards a green agenda. Trump and the Republicans on the other hand have absolutely no interest, and are downright hostile, to that agenda.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,264 Mod ✭✭✭✭Manic Moran

    Couple of shots from my recent drive to my reserve military training (800km or so).

    This is what American infrastructure does that Europe cannot (And, in fairness, has no need to). That train's well over a mile long. You want to move lots of things long distances with very little in between (If you check the map, you'll find pretty much nothing of note between San Antonio and El Paso), the US rail network can't be touched.

    I took the scenic route home (Ft Stockton to Del Rio). Over this 100km stretch to Sanderson, I saw probably two dozen vehicles in total. When you're dealing with that sort of traffic density, it's understandable that the road repair budget isn't to European standards per mile.

    You also get weirdness like this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,473 ✭✭✭KrisW1001

    Yes, outside of the metropolitan areas, there's simply enormous pockets of feck-all in the States.

    But those trains only look impressive: they're actually the problem with rail transport in the States. The rail network is extraordinarily slow, which is why the trains are run so long. Sections of the track aren't capable of higher speeds, so to get the throughput up, they use super-long trains. This isn't so much a lack of investment as a conscious decision by the railroad companies, all of whom are freight movers, and this is the cheapest way to transfer the largest amount of freight.

    But the fact that virtually all the rail corridors are owned by freight companies is what has hamstrung any attempt at medium-speed passenger rail in the States. In Texas, Dallas to Austin is 315 km, about 2h40 by road (assuming you don't get stuck at either end in I-35's appalling traffic). The same trip would be around 2h by rail without any fancy high-speed track or rolling stock (assuming two intermediate stops). Want to know the actual journey time...? Four hours. Those mile-long freight trains, and low-speed sections, make the lines useless for long-distance passenger use.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,149 ✭✭✭plodder

    The quality of German and UK motorways is poor in comparion to Ireland too, but to be expected given the traffic volumes really.

    German motorways are pretty good in my experience. Their standards of signage and road markings are much higher than here and the UK. And they spend a fortune in maintenance every year.

    I suspect motorways are probably in a better state here than the UK because they are much newer here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,921 ✭✭✭kirving

    Really interesting having just seen it up close, thanks! Impressive nonetheless

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,421 ✭✭✭✭cson

    As a US resident I wish they'd concentrate on high speed rail over interstates.

    A country of their wealth and technology should really have their own version of the Shinkansen/TGV, certainly on the Northeast corridor from DC to Boston.

    Brightline is a step in the right direction at least.

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭Norteño

    Seeing as though they are literally trillions in debt, and have to keep lifting the country's overdraft limit every month to even more ridiculous and unsustainable levels, I'd say it's not surprising that they've no money to fix the roads and rail they have, never mind build new ones.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,421 ✭✭✭✭cson

    Household budget =/= Government budget.

    They can issue as much debt as they want, it won't make a difference to their standing in the world.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭

    A trip through the Continental Divide (the Rockies). Extraordinary engineering and the heights are unreal. The lowest peak on this road is over 2,400 meters. The highway transitions from Kansas, East Colorado flat land to mountains and to desert is wonderful.

    Post edited by on

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    In terms of sheer ambition the project announced by Eisenhower was monumental and an incredible undertaking.

    The actual roads themselves are of abysmal quality and easily the worst I've ever drive on.

    I'm now off to start an American Highspeed Rail Appreciation Thread.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,394 ✭✭✭NSAman

    When they do build roads they do it right.

    i90 Chicago to Rockford, 60 miles, 27 or so bridges replaced, completely lit, gone from two lanes to three lanes and then widened IN chicago suburbs to 5 to six lanes. All built in 2 years? Speed limits ( if you can call them speed limits) went up.

    Travelling from outer suburbs of Chicago to O’Hare is a trip. Speed limit is 70, average speed is 90. Schaumburg to O’Hare is now 10 minutes.

    Im not sure how long the M7 between Naas and Newbridge took, seemed like YEARS!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,543 ✭✭✭veryangryman

    Ireland not as rich or densely populated as America shocker

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,078 ✭✭✭salonfire

    I'm sure those caught up in fiery pile-ups being ploughed into by speeding big rigs really appreciate the extraordinary engineering as well.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭

    This is why they have truck emergency ramps on the route to avoid such incidents.

  • Registered Users Posts: 440 ✭✭towger

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 11,886 Mod ✭✭✭✭Cookiemunster

    Los Angeles.

    New York.


    And finally, Dallas.

    Gridlock everywhere. It's almost as if you're cherry picking to make the US's crumbling overstretched infrastructure look better than it actually is.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,473 ✭✭✭KrisW1001

    The top picture is not "Europe". It was in China, but is at least twenty years out of date. It is in the centre of the Shanghai business district. When that photo was taken, there was no proper motorway bypass of Shanghai in place.

    Here's what it looks like today :

    You don't know Dallas, so you're able to imagine that those roads are actually near the city. I can assure you that they aren't: they're part of a system of bypass roads for the five to six major cities in North Central Texas. If you want to get into downtown Dallas from there, good luck. (And you'll notice the video guy was driving at night and very early in the morning... I'll leave you to work out why)

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,564 ✭✭✭✭

    Oh rly?

    This is downtown Dallas

    Let's not pretend Europe (or anywhere else for that matter) is at the races when it comes to scale and road design in the US. We aren't. They do it properly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,275 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Americans can only dream of this

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  • Registered Users Posts: 81,963 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

This discussion has been closed.