History of Technology 2: Road Building Boom

Road building boom doesn't refer to people blowing up freshly built roads, though that would make a more action-packed video.

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:29

Gilroy Garlic Festival. some of the first Turnpike's at parkways were built during

00:33

the 20s. mostly on the eastern seaboard in 1925 the country took an even bigger

00:38

step. folks decided to get crazy and organized their road building efforts.

00:44

major routes were given a system of numbers and called highways and the

00:48

federal government helped States fund improvements to them. oh and by the way

00:53

don't confuse a highway with an interstate road. Nazis hate that. highways

00:58

were just winding country roads with pavement and numbers added to. an

01:05

interstate was something radically different. [interstate pictured]

01:08

it's bigger faster and more standardized. but wasn't until 1956 that President

01:14

Eisenhower scraped together the funding and popular support to get the

01:18

interstate system really going. yes he found a lot of spare change under that

01:22

oval office couch. fun fact the Eisenhower good roads were an issue of

01:27

national defense. he wanted to be able to cruise down u.s. interstates in tanks

01:32

and trucks in case we got invaded by the Russians or Germans or Chinese or aliens

01:37

or well whoever it was we were afraid of on that particular day. building

01:42

interstates wasn't so much about new technology although stuff like [steam roller at work]

01:45

steamrollers and bulldozers definitely helped. a lot. it was more about a bunch

01:50

of new ideas that made road Transportation wildly different. well one

01:55

thing to think about is the idea of limited access where and how we get on

01:59

an interstate is actually tightly controlled. there are on ramps and exits

02:04

which are carefully planned out in advance. unlike every other Road in the

02:08

country farmer Joe couldn't just run his driveway straight into the interstate

02:12

and pull into traffic on his tractor. with limited access traffic moves faster

02:17

and more smoothly and keeps the interstates from becoming a high-stakes

02:21

version of bumper cars. there are also restrictions on curves and Hills.

02:25

automobiles were getting faster and more dangerous and some clever engineers [man smiles while driving down the road]

02:29

realized that there were ways to build safer roads.

02:33

well they determined that steep inclines and hairpin turns weren't really cool .so

02:38

they set limits on how steep and curvy roads could actually be. lanes also got

02:43

wider along with the shoulders of the roads. most roads in the 30s and 40s were

02:48

pretty narrow to help cut the building costs but interstates were built with

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multiple lanes and nice wide shoulders pull over into when people spilled

02:57

coffee on their laps. interstates also have the brilliant policy of making it

03:01

much harder to swerve across the yellow line and slam into oncoming traffic. they

03:07

separate traffic in different directions on two entirely different roads. which is [woman drives as cell phone goes off]

03:12

smart because nothing quite ruins your day like a head-on collision. Engineers

03:18

also got better at road surfaces adding tar and concrete to the macadam process

03:22

we talked about before . but perhaps most importantly all of the things we just

03:27

listed were required and standardized. an interstate in California was

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supposed to work just like one in Texas because no one likes a surprise when

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they're pushing 80 miles an hour. [ car drives a vertical loop in the road]