Posted on 24 April 2010.
Until a road reaches such behemoth proportions astronauts can see it from space, it does not attract a great deal of attention. “Long,” “bizarre,” and “dangerous,” invite all kinds of discussion; “wide,” not so much, searching for wide roads, after you exhaust the relatively short list of contenders for the world’s widest road, your choices narrow considerably. Road-weary researchers typically come to a dead-end, realizing a person can take these questions too literally. Sometimes, imagination must pick-up where geography hits a barricade. Therefore, combining both literal and figurative measures of highway span, this list offers the ten best answers to the nearly impossible question, “What are the world’s ten widest roads?”
1. The Road to Perdition, slough of despond
Well-paved with good intentions, the Road to Perdition stretches exactly as wide as peak traffic demands. Like the Autobahn in Germany, the Road to Perdition has no speed limits, and legend holds that James Dean and Steve McQueen still drag race along one especially smooth and straight stretch.
2. El Toro Y, Interstate 5 meets Interstate 405, Orange County California, USA
Bigger than many American small towns, the El Toro Y covers nearly two square miles with solid concrete. At its widest point, the “Y” stretches 26 lanes wide, not counting frontage and access roads. In addition to ranking high among the world’s widest roads, the El Toro Y also comes close to the top of the list for world’s busiest roads—every day, nearly 400,000 cars grind through the interchange.
3. Monumental Axis, Brazil
Arguably the world’s most spectacular expanse of public thoroughfare, nicely manicured and very well groomed, the Monumental Axis, according to legend, accommodates 160 cars side-by-side. At least a dozen reputable sources repeat this claim, but none has pictures or expert eyewitnesses. Canadians disqualify the Monumental Axis’s claims to #1, alleging that all previous measures unfairly have included the admittedly capacious median strip; proud Brazilians shrug-off these allegations.
4. Highway 401, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Loyal Canadians crowd geography sites, fervently arguing that their big road ought to top the list of the world’s widest roads. Very technically, they make their case, but reputation and legend dictate the outcome of this competition. For the record, Highway 401 sports twenty-two Canadian-sized lanes, and several authoritative sources give 401 the distinction of “widest highway in North America”—the equivalent of a silver medal.
5. Interstate 75,north of Atlanta, Georgia, USA
More testimony to Americans’ love of their cars and highways, I75 features 15 contiguous multi-purpose lanes, and builders are adding a four-lane trucks-only tollway, plus an additional four-lane by-pass exclusively for high-occupancy vehicles. When “they” finish construction, the highway will stretch 23 lanes wide, matching other entries on the list, but beating them in strict measure by 6 to 10 feet.