Roads of the NAL
The first North American roads were the various trails and tracks used by the Natives to connect one place to another. By the time Europeans first came to these shoares, the Natives had already in place a vast network of long and short distance trails that made communications fairly quick and easy. As the European immigrants settled the land, often settling near towns previously inhabited by Natives, they made use of those same trails to connect their own growing towns, farms and settlements.
The first attempts at improving upon the Native trails were by the Batavians who graded the roadway out of New Amsterdam to their other settlements along Hudsons River. As British settlers affirmed their ascendancy in the land, towns like Boston and Philadelphia and Baltimore began to improve upon the horse trails that connected them. The earliest of these turnpikes was the Kings Road that connected Boston and New Amsterdam.
By the mid eighteenth century, graded coach roads and turnpikes connected all the principal towns and cities of the Provinces. In those days, there was no such thing as a "freeway" -- all the main roads (that is, all the roads that were well graded, well drained and well maintained) were toll roads. Tolls, often collected at bridges and near borders, varied from location to location and the revenues collected by the road's proprietor were to be used for "...surveys of expeditious routes, maintainance of all existing routes, bridges, wayhouses and tollbooths, and improvements to be made to existing routes." As often as not, the tolls collected by privately owned turnpike proprietors ended up lining their own pockets. Roads, even the best ones, were no more than narrow dirt and mud lanes with occasional signposts at intersections. The worst were rutty and overgrown tracks with dangerous fords and unmarked routes.
By the 1770s, the situation was so bad that the English Parliament intervened in its colonies, passing the 1772 Highway and Turnpike Act which enabled the colonies to tax all turnpike income in order to ensure road maintenance and also allowed the colonies to operate their own toll roads. The effect was the eventual creation of the Kings Highway (also known as the Great Post Road) that connected the chief cities of New England with Jacobia (this road would eventually become PR-1). Kemrese and Scottish territories were a little slower to enact similar measures. By 1799, the whole highway was properly graded and portions (notably the Alexandria to Baltimore stretch) were stone and brick paved.
With the enactment of the Solemn League and Covenant in 1803, the newly seated American Parliament began to take an interest in the roads and highways of the country. As the Ohio Valley and the Northwest became open, new routes needed to be built in a westward direction. Various seaboard cities vied with each other for trade and settlement routes and part of that drive involved building roads and canals into the West. When the railway proved its worth as a means of rapidly transporting goods and people over long distances, the West and North truly became wide open and many settlers followed the railways westward. Again, the ancient Native trails became the foundation upon which the newer roads were aligned.
During the first half of the 19th century, the network of roads had grown considerably and the beginnings of a new agitation were first heard. Roads were still often little more than rut ridden tracks and most were unmarked. Travellers or coachmen unfamiliar with the land often became hopelessly lost if they wandered even a half mile from a main road. The Post Office was charged in 1849 with marking the main roads their own coachmen used to carry the post; work began the next year to erect mile posts and rudimentary directional signage. However, the effects were limited since the Post Office's primary network of coach roads amounted to perhaps a handful or a dozen main roads. By the 1850s, there were hundreds of roads in America, some more or less primary in nature.
In the late 1860s and 1870s, various wheelmen's organisations had banded together to form the American Wheelmen's Good Road Organisation. They agitated for widespread road improvements as well as for better maps, signage and safety features. With the introduction of the first lorries and busses and motorcars in the 1880s, it became apparent that present roads would not be sufficient to the demands of the new vehicles. Demand for broader, better graded and hard surfaced roads rose steadily in the 1880s and 1890s. The railways, which were highly electrified by the last quarter of the century, and the electric companies became interested in the new "autocarriage" as a means of transport and joined with the Good Road Organisation to work on lobbying Parliament for some kind of highway improvement.
Little progress was seen in the first years of the 20th century, though by now the petrol fired motorcars had been introduced and brought a whole new means of transport to rural areas where electric lines (and thus a means of recharging the wildly popular electric motorcars found in eastern cities) did not yet reach and which had relied solely on horse and ox drawn waggons. The GRO began to encourage localitites to take matters into their own hands by hooking up with other communities in forming Covenants which would create through routes that would connect scores and hundreds of towns with a network of good and well marked roads. Thus was born the Covenant Trail movement. The route of the first Trail, the National Pike, was decided upon and improvements were made to the road by opening day on 25 March 1913. Within five years, over one hundred new Trails were opened.
The predecessor to the modern Post Roads was the system of of Covenant Trails. No records exist that give a precise number of Trails, as many were "short lines" that only connected two or three provinces or even some large town with another Trail, but it is thought that well in excess of 250 Trails were promoted in the early 20th century. The corporations that owned the routes and were charged with maintenance were called Covenants, and were formed by memberships as diverse as the various wheelmen's organisations, the railways and civic and business organisations in the towns along a proposed route.
In that time, few roads outside of major cities were paved, and it was the job of the Covenants to seek out the best quality local roads, paying special attention to the locations of inns, electrified railways or other utilities (for electric vehicle recharging), blacksmiths and other places where supplies could be bought or repairs could be made. In some areas, the Covenants also took on the challenge of paving stretches of road. Initially, macadamisation was the process of choice, but as technology brought motorised lorries and busses with their rubber tyres onto the roads, the macadamisation process was improved (called tar macadamisation) by mixing the finely crushed stones of the top layer with hot tar and allowing the motor vehicles themselves to compact the mixture into a hard, smooth driving surface.
The early Covenant Trails were named and the routes were designated by posts or stakes along the way with coloured chevrons. As often as not, the Trail marks were painted on telephone poles, wayside trees and barns as well. The Covenants also produced the first road maps. At first, these were simply point-to-point references that showed the distance between towns and described the chief landmarks along the way (such as forks in the road, notable trees or rock formations, peculiar barns and the like). Eventually, the maps evolved into colourful affairs that showed the whole region's network of highways and unpaved roads, differentiating them by colour. By 1916, during the Great War, the Trails were being assumed by the League (for reasons of wartime defense) and were, during the next decade, superceded by the Post Road system. This was seen as largely a wise move, as many Trails were being promoted by shysters who pocketed the dues paid by municipalities and businesses that would be served by the proposed route; others were maintained little better than the ancient turnpikes of the 18th century.
A few Trails, or to be more precise, a few remnants of Trails, are still on the books: the Adirondack Trail; the Atlantic Trail; the Piedmont Highway; the Old Coastal Highway; the Mason & Dixon Highway; the Red Ball Route to name a few. According to the Post Roads and Defence Highways Act (1918), no new Covenants could be formed for the purpose of promoting road routes; existing Covenants could be maintained until the federal and provincial governments could sufficiently take over the construction and maintenance of the roads, at which time, the roads would be transfered to provincial keeping; for historical purposes, only the National Pike Trail Covenant would be granted the right to maintain its Trail, in connection with the Wheelmen's Good Road Organisation, who were thus charged with maintaining and archiving the history of America's roads.
After the second Great War, a new wave of prosperity washed over the country and people began to take to the road in unprecedented numbers. Vehicles of all sorts (mostly petrol fired, but still a strong minority of electric motorcars) from motorbikes and family sedans to campers and caravans to the mighty articulated juggernaut required widened and straightened roads. By the 1960s, about 80% of the old Trails had been converted to Post Roads and 90% of all highways were paved (either concrete or tar macadam).
As of 2007, almost all of the old Trails have been converted to Post Roads, and all the Covenants themselves have been taken over by governments. Some of the picturesque names of the old Trails have been maintained in the official logs, along with their modern Post Road designations, as the names truly proved to be popular and have long outlived their use: the Adirondack Trail is still under provincial control, but is slated to be numbered "PR-9" and the Atlantic Trail (pending designation as a future PR-9); the National Pike (PR-40) is still owned by the National Pike Trail Covenant but was donated by the private ownership to the Royal Bureau of Parks and Forests; the Atlantic Coastal Highway and the Boston Postal Road (PR-1); the Broad Way (PR-66); the Ontario Gulf Trail (PR-3 (old PR-61) from Port Arthur in Ontario to Mobile; the Capitol Trail (the southern portion of PR-1); the Dixie Highway (portions of PR-3 and PR-33); the Trans-Ontario Northway (PR-2); the Raff Alan Highway (PR-11).
The system of Post Roads are divided into North-South and East-West and are distinctively numbered accordingly. There are a number of (roughly) North-South routes in the NAL, and these all receive odd numbering. There are three N-S divisions, called "eastern", "central" and "western" and a chief route serves each division: PR-1 in the east, PR-3 in the central and PR-5 in the west. The chief East-West routes are 2, 4 & 66 and are the big ones in the north. 40, 50 and 66 serve the Midatlantic. 50 and 66 come together and split up at various points of their journey. 70, 80, 90 and 100 serve the south. Since the recent readmission of East and West Florida to the NAL (official on 1 January, 2005), PR-90 and PR-100 will serve the farthest points south in the country. These of course are just the principal roads, and there are many others.
The numbering system is somewhat haphazard, (and the situation was not helped by a renumbering scheme in the 1960s) though for the most part larger numbers are found in the south and west. North-south routes are odd numbered east to west from "1"; east-west routes are even numbered north to south from "2". "Chief Routes" have number designations of one or two digits (such as "1" and "15") and have no fewer than four lanes (total) in built up areas, while "Lesser Routes" have designations of three or four digits (such as "111") and are usually two lane roads, sometimes with a third "common right turn lane" in the middle.
The numbering system was devised in the 1920s when there were few roads of any kind, let alone a good system of highways. By the late 20th century, quite a few inconsistencies have cropped up and so the above information should be taken with a grain of salt.
There are a number of "Alternate Routes" which may be designated as "1A" or "Scenic 1" or "Alternate 1" or "Old 1" or "Historic 1". These are simply variants on the current main route of the highway. The Post Roads span multiple provinces, but within a local area, a small network of related roads may be designated as part of the System if it connects two or more Post Roads. In Ter Mair, Route 911 connects 11, 15, 15A, 1, 50 and 301; as well as a number of provincial highways: 355, 97 and 29.
The original criteria for PR system numbering was:
1. Even numbers run east to west; increasing to the south
2. Principal routes are one or two digits and end in 0; "PR-0" was specifically avoided in the initial plan, and was reserved by the Ministry of Defense for a possible Arctic Highway
3. Odd numbers run north to south; increasing to the west
4. Principal routes are one or two digits and (if two digits) end in 1
5. Increments of low-order digits fill in the grid (ex. PR-22, PR-46, etc)
6. Spurs, bypasses, beltways and local connector routes are three digits; spurs and bypasses include the one or two digits of their parent route plus a prefix digit -- ex., 240 is a spur that connects Georgetown, MD with PR-40 at Frederick; while beltways are often prefixed by the digit 4 (401 is the Capitol Beltway, at Philadelphia); and local connectors are often prefixed by the digit 9 (PR-911 is a local connector in central Ter Mair)
7. Split routes are denoted by "N / S / E / W" suffixed to the route number, ex. PR-66N and PR-66S
Many exceptions crept into the system due to compromises (provinces wanted principal routes to pass through their capitals, for example); roads built later were often haphazardly numbered; and the diagonal nature of many routes destroys the otherwise neat grid structure. A few revisions were made in the 1970s:
8. No new Post Roads will be assigned to routes that exist within the bounds of a single province, except for the Unincorporated Territories
9. Split routes are to be discouraged in favour of existing banner terminology (ex. PR-40 ALT)
10. Existing single province PR routes less than 200 miles in length should be considered for decommissioning
The list of acceptable "banners" -- the small rectangular signs above or below the route shield was finalised in the 1953:
ALT (alternate): any of several kinds of secondary parallel routes.
BUS (business): a loop leading through the heart of a city's commercial area. This is usually the original route though town.
REL (relief): a loop leading around the heart of a city's commercial / most congested area, generally these were built in the 1970s or later and are sometimes known as BP (bypass).
DETOUR : an temporary route used while the main route is under construction. Usually used for mainline traffic.
HIST, OLD (historic or old): previous route alignments, often retained for historical and navigatory purposes; some provinces suffix letters for older alignments, reserving the plain number for the chief alignment.
SCENIC : a little used banner; these are often found on smaller, winding routes which are alternates to newer straighter roads.
SPUR or CON (connector): a short branch route that connects a specific location to the main road.
TEMP (temporary): an interim route used while the main route is under initial construction, or when the proposed route is not yet finalized.
TOLL: a toll road.
LORRY: a type of RELIEF route meant for use of articulated juggernauts, large lorries, busses and military vehicles.
MOD: the Ministry of Defence is able, under the Post Roads and Defence Highways Act (1918), to build and maintain its own roadways within military bases; it may also commandeer designated Post Roads in a time of war or emergency. At times, parts of PR-91 (along the Mississippi) have been militarised. In the 1970s, the MOD built a bespoke highway along the border with Florida-Caribbea which has, since the dissolvement of that country, been left abandoned.
Map of the Chief Post Roads
Provincial highways (PH) and local carriage routes (CR) may be highways or any chief thoroughfare within a province or county within a province. Each province and locality devises its own master plans in which to place roadways and determines the specifications which its roads must meet. If a provincial highway should come to the border of that province, the neighbouring province is not under any obligation to even connect with that road; and if such a connection is made, there is no guarantee that a broad four lane highway will remain so in that neighbouring province -- it might quickly turn into a dirt lane!
Provincial thoroughfares are built and maintained by provincial funds. Most are free access roads, but some are tollroads. County roads are built and maintained by funds allocated to or raised within the county. A county may not impose a toll for use of its roads.
Constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, the Trans-Continental Highway passes through the NAL in a sweeping arc from Nunavik and Mueva Sefarad in the far north, passes through Nouvelle Francie and then winds through the eastern provinces through Mobile and then into Louisianne. The intent of the Transcontinental Highway Congress was to encourage travel and trade by road among its member states by providing for a standardised highway that connects all the member countries.
The American portion of the TCH involved little more than deciding upon a route and erecting all the necessary signage and support facilities (regional welcome and tourism centres). Other countries faced greater challenges in that they had to improve poorly constructed roads or else build a new highway where no roads existed already. The northern part of the system opened officially in 1977, though the American and Alta-Californian branches had been open by about 1962.
Roadhandedness in the NAL and Other North American Countries
Roadhandedness is the term used to describe which side of a street or road traffic flowing in the same direction drives on. Conventionally, one either drives upon the left or the right side of the road, as understood by a person standing in the middle of the road and facing along a line parallel to the road. Americans drive upon the left largely due to the fact that their European counterparts in the FK drive upon the left. Most other countries in the Americas drive upon the right.
Since the NAL-SLC has done much of the road building to connect to foreign lands, the majority of the flyovers exist on the NAL-SLC side of the border, however, Oregon has attempted to construct flyovers in even quantity with the NAL-SLC, effectively alternating which side of the border requires the swap. Much of the impetus and original funding for the project was legislated via the International Flyover Revampment and Retrofitment Act, 1988.
In 2009, Louisianna introduced a new style of flyover, called the "diverging diamond" design, which allows a normal highway or post road to pass underneath the over pass, but also allow an easy transition from left to right-hand drive while still providing access to the highway or post road beneath. The first of its type was used on the much travelled LR 47 intersection with LR3/NAL 91 that connects further to the Alaskan Highway.
It has been well received on all sides, and seems to be much more convenient than the typical carriage road crossings.