The History of Paved Roads in America
You may not pay much attention to the roads you use every day. Unless, of course, one of your wheels hits a pothole or construction makes you late for work. While these can be minor annoyances, they’re nothing compared to the inconvenience of having no roads at all.
While none of us have ever experienced a world without roads, it did exist at one time. So how did they come to be the foremost mode of transportation in all of our lives?
All Roads Lead to Rome
The Roman empire didn’t invent roads, but it did make them better. Their design laid the foundation for the roads we know and love today.
They used gravel, sand, cement, tile, and stones to create a four-layered surface, and designed them with water drainage in mind.
In fact, they were designed so well, that some of those old roads are still in use today.
With these designs in mind, modern-day roads were created and improved.
Roads Weren’t Built For Cars
It may be hard to imagine today, but paved roads weren’t a priority for the American government when they were first proposed. In fact, this initiative faced a lot of resistance.
Early American travel consisted of horses and wagons. These travelers wore paths into the ground, which could be considered the first road network, but was still a long way off from paved roads.
The first widespread method of national travel came in the form of railroads and trains, which were privately funded and negated the need for roads.
You might think that government funding came about after cars were invented and gained popularity. But the desire for paved roads was already in place long before the first affordable automobile.
In fact, roads weren’t built for cars at all. They were actually made for bicycles.
Laying the Foundation
If not for the manufacturers of bicycles, the American adoption of roads would have been vastly delayed. This movement was primarily led by Col. Alfred Pope, who pushed for better roads to increase the revenue he’d make off of the bicycles he manufactured.
While he had his own vested interest, he rallied support for the roads by insisting they would be beneficial to everyone.
With the help of other manufacturers and special interest groups, he convinced New York and New Jersey state legislatures to invest money into paving and widening their local roads.
Their efforts eventually led to the passing of the Federal Aid Road Act in 1916.
But, even though the lobbying had been done by and for cyclists, it was automobiles who ultimately benefited.
Move Over Cyclists
Henry Ford may not have invented the first automobile, but he did sell cars better than almost any of his adversaries. The Model T, manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in 1908, was the most popular of its kind and sold well in both the United States and the UK.
Cyclists turned to automobiles as their new source of luxury. With cars on the road, the need for both asphalt paving and concrete construction companies became widespread.
The First Road
While roads began to be paved in the late 1800s, the first mile of paved concrete road in America was laid in 1909.
This happened in Detroit, Michigan, just four blocks from the home of Henry Ford.
Thus, Woodward Ave. was born, and it’s still celebrated in Detroit to this day.
Paving the Way
Today, paved roads are integral to success. They allow us to travel, to interact, and to move forward. When a road isn’t paved correctly, we all lose out on valuable time and money.
Make sure it’s done correctly the first time. With Limitless Paving, we provide the highest quality work, so you never have to worry. Call us today to get started.