Serving as links between different towns and cities, highways are undoubtedly important to the transportation system of various countries around the world. From the smallest to the biggest highway in the world, highways have become increasingly functional in various parts of both developed and developing countries as the populations increase, helping people move easily from one place to another. By definition, highways are major roads that connect cities and towns, and they are generally open for public uses. Highways are constructed, used and maintained under different rules and authorities; hence, limitations of highways vary greatly.
Notably, the main benefit of highways is to reduce time taken to move between cities and towns; thereby, easing the mode of movement of people for work or leisure. Highway 401 in Ontario, Canada is known to be the busiest highway in the world with the more than 500,000 vehicular movements each day, and it eases the movement of millions of people around the city. Though most highways connect cities and towns, there are few that connect countries. Connecting 14 countries within the Americas, the Pan-American Highway is known to be the longest highway in the world as it covers almost 48,000 kilometers. The US, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Columbia, Argentina and Costa Rica are some of the 14 countries this highway connects.
Although lots of developing nations have well built highways, developed countries have better, wider and safer highway networks. For instance, the United States of America and China have some of the largest highways in the world, and this attests to the fact that most developed countries have the best highways around the globe. Before the construction of each highway, there are certain factors that are often put into consideration. These factors include population of neighboring cities and towns, topographical features of the area, location, suitability of the existing or potential highways, relevance of the proposed highways and basic soil features. Some of the most dangerous highways in the world are constructed without giving considerations to these factors; hence, they are unsafe for use.
Furthermore, wherever highways are constructed, they are usually open for usage by the public. However, there may be vehicular restrictions on certain highways as determined by the state or private company in charge of its construction and maintenance.
Highways were first invented to reduce dangerous roads, traffic congestions and other factors that used to make road improvident. As a result of the harms caused by these factors, highways were invented.
The first network of highways was built in 1691 at the Old San Antonio Road, also called the King’s Highway. However, the first modern highway was the National Road which was built in 1818.
Interstate highways are found in each state of a country. In most cases this applies to the United States. Each state maintains and enforces laws concerning the interstate highways found within its region.
President Dwight Eisenhower was inspired by what the Germans had built before and during World Ward 2. The president later signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 which ushered in the establishment of networks of highways. More details can be found here
US highways are mainly maintained by state and local governments. However, few of the US highways are maintained by private firms with authorities from the state or local government in charge of the area.
Though funded by government or private firms, highway engineers are responsible for the planning, designing, constructing and operating of the highways. Highway engineering is a branch of civil engineering, and it deals primarily with the making of highways.
Federal, state and local governments are mostly responsible for the funding of highways. In addition to funds from governmental bodies, private companies also fund some highway projects.
Highways are banked to reduce the effects of centrifugal force which is capable of veering vehicles towards the outside of the road. In other words, banking of highways allows vehicles to stay better on the highway.
Weigh stations are designated points along highways meant to check the weight of vehicles. Checking vehicular weight allows states or companies to get tax on trucks and commercial vehicles.
There are certain countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas that have no highways. Some of these countries include Democratic Republic of Congo, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Vatican City, Andorra, Laos, Cambodia, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Djibouti, South Sudan and Macau.