Road And Highway Nicknames Around The World
June 16, 2014

Road And Highway Nicknames Around The World

Around the world, in every country, in every state and in every city, there are roadways, highways and interchanges that sometimes have peculiar nicknames. Most of these paved, gravel or concrete roads are named after famous people or someone who has contributed a great deal to the region, and some are nicknamed for some special feature or history behind it.

One of the most-used nicknames is Spaghetti Junction. This nickname refers to hundreds of interchanges around the world because of their complicated design or looking like a plate of spaghetti when viewed from above. The term “spaghetti junction” was coined by journalist Roy Smith in an article in the Birmingham Evening Mail on June 1, 1965. He described one major interchange “like a cross between a plate of spaghetti and an unsuccessful attempt at a Staffordshire knot.”

Since then, many more interchanges have been built and nicknamed spaghetti junction. Personally, I have driven over the Tom Moreland Interchange (spaghetti junction) in Dekalb County, Georgia, where interstates 85 and 285 cross, as well as Chamblee-Tucker Road and Northcrest Road meet. Believe me, you don’t want to be there during rush hour traffic. I have spent hours in traffic jams just trying to get through.

Other major cities in the US have spaghetti junction interchanges, including the Judge Harry Patterson Interchange, Los Angeles, California. Connecting the San Francisco International Airport near San Bruno California to US Route 101 is a spaghetti junction. Circle Interchange in Chicago, Illinois is another one. All in all, there is at least one mass of tangled roads in 43 different states in the US, totaling over 200 — 43 in California alone — that can be classified as a spaghetti junction interchange.

However, they are not limited to just the US, as many other countries contain these overcrowded roadways stacked on top of each other to form an intermingled mess of concrete and steel. Australia has five. Canada has eight. Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa all have at least one and the UK has two.

Many other roads around the world have other weird nicknames, too.

Paraguayan prisoners of war built the North Yungas Road in the 1930s, nicknamed the Road of Death. A 40-mile section of road that runs through the Andes in northeastern Bolivia, it is coined the most dangerous road in the world. It is unpaved and is bordered by 3,000-foot cliffs where more than 100 travelers die on its hairpin curves each year.

In Brazil, the BR-116 is the second longest road and runs from Porto Alegre all the way to Rio de Janeiro. The section that runs through Curitiba-Sao Paulo has been named the Highway of Death because it borders steep cliffs and road fatalities are common.

The Pan-American Highway includes nearly 30,000 miles of road from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to southern South America. A small portion runs through Costa Rica and has been named the Hill of Death. It has a narrow curve, steep cliffs and is susceptible to having flash floods and landslides.

California not only has many spaghetti junctions around the state, they also have a few other road nicknames like Dead Man’s Curve on Sunset Boulevard, the Miracle Mile on the West Side and a road connecting Pasadena and San Marino called “Frankenstein.”

Recently, Tracy Morgan experienced tragedy on the New Jersey Turnpike, which is nicknamed “The Black Dragon.” Retired state trooper Al Della Fave said, “It’s always been a real source of pride for someone to say ‘I worked The Black Dragon. They don’t even allow troops to go out there too soon — they want you to have minimum 18 months experience before you’re even allowed to patrol The Turnpike.”

“There are so many lanes, and the speed that drivers can attain, that things happen very fast. Multiple lanes, high volume. So when somebody makes a mistake it’s almost certain to be serious,” he added.

The highway was opened to traffic in 1951 and goes 122 miles through New Jersey, from Newark to the Delaware Border. It was built under President Dwight Eisenhower to transport people and goods quickly between New York and Philadelphia. A book titled The Black Dragon was written by Joseph Collum that explains the controversial history of the highway and the troopers who patrol it. He said, “It’s the black, asphalt spine that runs up and down New Jersey. It is a dangerous road.”

The speed limit is posted at 65 mph, but the traffic normally paces over 80.

I am sure there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of roads with nicknames around the world, so search the web for yourself and you may find a road close to you that has a unique, peculiar or funny nickname.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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