Out on assignment yesterday we found ourselves on the stretch of New Mexico Highway 60 that crosses the Plains of San Agustin, out by the Very Large Array, I got to thinking about long straight roads. Between Magdalena and Datil, 60 runs 23 miles of absolute straight, not a single bend or deviation:
It’s the longest such stretch of road I could think of, but when I thought about it this morning, 23 miles doesn’t seem nearly as long in words as it did looking out across the plains from one edge to the other. Other examples, anyone?
The only thing longer that comes to mind is the stretch of I-80 west of Salt Lake that crosses the Bonneville Salt Flats. That looks to be a little over 40 miles straight, as I just measured it. I’m sure there are some lonely highways in Nevada that rival that, too, but none of them are memorable enough to narrow it down to a particular one.
Have you even driven 206 from Portales to Tatum? Now there’s a long straight stretch of road!
24.7 miles, straight as a shot, inside the city limits of Chicago.
OK, there are tiny flaws at I-94 and I-55. Still…
Linda – I’ve not done the Portales-Tatus route. Looks like a contender.
Thomas – Interesting you bring up Bonneville, as I was thinking that one common geographical characteristic that might lead to such roads is a big closed basin with a flat bottom left as the lake dried up – which I think matches both Bonneville and the Plains of San Agustin.
Michael – That Chicago one is a score, thanks! It never occurred to me to think there might be gridded urban streets that long. Wow. Is it flat? Because my NM 60 example is not straight in the vertical direction – a number of up-and-down rollers.
Hello! nice post. I work in New Orleans and often pass over the “Causeway” between New Orleans and Covington, Louisiana. It is essentially a straight, elevated highway that crosses Lake Ponchartrain.
Download a screenshot of it here:
There is a small bend in the middle but I think we have a winner.
Interestingly, had a discussion on this topic over Christmas with some friends in Kansas. One of them mentioned Bonneville Salt Flats and said there was a slight bend in the middle. We looked it up and it’s about 35 miles of straight. However, highway 64 in Oklahoma, which is just outside Boise City and goes east to Guymon is about 50 miles of dead straight and apparently looks like it when you drive along there.
However, permit me to offer this exhibit: http://goo.gl/maps/MzBE . About 90 miles of dead straight across some of the Australian desert. Used frequently by huge road trains carrying “stuff” between Adelaide and Perth and mining towns in between.
The Nullabor Highway clocks in at 146km of straight, long, BOOOOOORING sealed road. *sigh*
Malcolm – What are “road trains”?
John: Road trains are apparently called “triples” and Rocky Mountain doubles in the US, according to wikipedia. They are multi-trailer trucks.
There are a lot of two- and three-trailer combinations driving across portions of the outback in Australia.
It’s not very long, but Euclid street, which runs for three blocks from Vassar to Richmond north of Indian School, is a perfectly straight line. In a Euclidian geometry. Or something. I didn’t really pay attention in Geometry.
If this is a contest, I award the prize to the Australians.
But does anyone know anything about Africa? I bet there are some contenders there…
That 146km stretch of the Eyre Highway on the Nullabor claims to be the longest straight stretch of road in the world. If you use Google Streetview on the very westernmost end of the straight section you can just make out the sign proclaiming this but it’s not readable.
If you look further west you’ll note that before the slight bend there’s also a very long straight section as well. So it’s not just 146 km of straight road, it’s ~80 km of very straight road, then a bend, and then another 146 km of perfectly straight road.
North of there is the Indian Pacific railway line that also claims to have the longest straight stretch of railway line in the world — 478 km. (http://www.railaustralia.com.au/indianPacific.php)
Interstate 80 in Nebraska between Grand Isle and Lincoln. 72 miles according to wikipedia. I’ve driven it, its not interesting at all.
I’ve stopped several times on bike tours just south of Carmel, where alongside Hwy 1 there is a sign that states there are curves for 74 miles. Now that is an interesting road.
I located a section of Route 412, running between Hardesty and Slapout OK, which clocks in at 65 miles.
This road is a continuation (on the other side of Guymon, OK) of the same route Malcolm found running for 50 miles.
So (to paraphrase Jason): it’s not just 65 miles of straight road, it’s 50 miles of very straight road, then a 24-mile break, and then another 65 miles of perfectly straight road.
But far and away, the longest straight road in the world is the Batha/Haradh Road in Saudi Arabia.
From what I could discern on Google Earth, it runs perfectly straight (east/west) for over 250 km (~155 miles.)
The road itself is 260 km, but appears to arch slightly north on its’ eastern end.