Impressive Roadway Feats

Impressive Roadway Feats - Go Pave Utah

Paving projects may sound boring, but our roadways are important pieces of our everyday life. From vacation travels to getting supplies to grocery stores and hospitals, we should all be grateful for the access that roads provide us. Here are just three examples of some pretty cool roadways projects in our country.

Interstate Highway System, National

Did you know that Interstate 80 spans across 11 states? That’s right, the 2,909-mile roadway goes through California (195 miles), Nevada (410 miles), Utah (197 miles), Wyoming (401 miles), Nebraska (455 miles), Iowa (301 miles), Illinois (163 miles), Indiana (167 miles), Ohio (236 miles), Pennsylvania (314 miles), and New Jersey (68 miles). Although the interests itself is a marvel, the intricacies of what I-80 offers is what makes the project so historic. It starts with crossing the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, crosses the Bonneville Salt Flats, reaches elevations of 8,000 feet above sea level in Wyoming, and features a 72-mile straight stretch (the longest of all interstates) right outside Lincoln, Nebraska. It ends just four miles shy of New York City. It’s the road that can take you coast to coast!

State Route 520 Floating Bridge, Washington

Built in 2016, the new State Route 520 Floating Bridge became the world’s longest floating bridge. The bridge replaced the old four-lane 1960s-era structure with a safer, six-lane bridge designed to handle strong winds and high waves. It spans 7,710 feet across Lake Washington and cost over $4 billion to complete (along with other corridor improvements). The foundation uses 77 concrete pontoons (the old bridge only had 33) which displace the water so that it equals the weight of the bridge, allowing it to float. It sits 20 feet above the water and has 58 anchors to secure the bridge.

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, Utah

In the 1920s, the US began an effort to make our national parks more accessible. In extremely remote areas, such as Zion National Park at the time, this was challenging. The effort included a 24-mile-long highway through Zion, which would include a 1.1-mile tunnel. At the time of its completion, the tunnel was the longest of its type in the US and allowed for easy, direct access to both Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon from Zion National Park. Workers had to operate with soft sandstone, meaning they needed remove the stone carefully. The project also required concrete reinforcement as well as a full-time electric monitoring system to alert park officials if there was any shifting in the stone (which is still monitored today). With larger vehicles, the tunnel often shifts to one-way and is managed by a park operator during the busy season. In 2019, the park reported that they helped 32,832 oversized vehicles pass through safely. If you have a large vehicle, you must obtain a tunnel permit and enter only when monitored during the tunnel hours of operation. The tunnel took about 3 years to complete, cost almost $2 million, and was completed in 1930.

Our roadways connect us to incredible destinations. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is under five hours from Salt Lake, so if you haven’t seen it yet, it may be time to make a road trip this summer!




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