United States Numbered Highways
Overview
 
The system of United States Numbered Highways (often called U.S. Routes or U.S. Highways) is an integrated system of road
Road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

s and highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 numbered within a nationwide grid. As these highways were coordinated among the states, they are infrequently referred to as Federal Highways, but they have always been maintained by state
State governments of the United States
State governments in the United States are those republics formed by citizens in the jurisdiction thereof as provided by the United States Constitution; with the original 13 States forming the first Articles of Confederation, and later the aforementioned Constitution. Within the U.S...

 or local governments
Local government in the United States
Local government in the United States is generally structured in accordance with the laws of the various individual states. Typically each state has at least two separate tiers: counties and municipalities. Some states have their counties divided into townships...

 since their initial designation in 1926.
Encyclopedia
The system of United States Numbered Highways (often called U.S. Routes or U.S. Highways) is an integrated system of road
Road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

s and highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 numbered within a nationwide grid. As these highways were coordinated among the states, they are infrequently referred to as Federal Highways, but they have always been maintained by state
State governments of the United States
State governments in the United States are those republics formed by citizens in the jurisdiction thereof as provided by the United States Constitution; with the original 13 States forming the first Articles of Confederation, and later the aforementioned Constitution. Within the U.S...

 or local governments
Local government in the United States
Local government in the United States is generally structured in accordance with the laws of the various individual states. Typically each state has at least two separate tiers: counties and municipalities. Some states have their counties divided into townships...

 since their initial designation in 1926. The numbers and locations are coordinated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
AASHTO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, is a standards setting body which publishes specifications, test protocols and guidelines which are used in highway design and construction throughout the United States...

 (AASHTO). The only federal involvement in the AASHTO is a non-voting seat for the United States Department of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...

. North-to-south highways are odd-numbered, with lowest numbers in the east and highest numbers in the west. Similarly, west-to-east highways are even-numbered, with the lowest numbers in the north and highest numbers in the south. Major north–south routes have numbers ending in "1" while major east–west routes have numbers ending in "0". Three-digit numbered highways are spur routes of each parent highway but are not necessarily connected to their parent route. Divided routes exist to provide two alignments to one route, even though many have been eliminated, while special routes, usually posted with a banner, can provide various routes, such as an alternate or bypass route, for a U.S. Highway. The Interstate Highway System
Interstate Highway System
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, , is a network of limited-access roads including freeways, highways, and expressways forming part of the National Highway System of the United States of America...

 has largely replaced the U.S. Highways for through traffic, though many important regional connections are still made by U.S. Highways, and new routes are still being added.

Prior to the U.S. Routes, auto trail
Auto trail
The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on telephone poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.Auto trails were...

s were predominant in marking roads through the United States. In 1925, the Joint Board on Interstate Highways, recommended by American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), worked to form a national numbering system for roads. After several meetings, a final report was approved by the Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 in November 1925. After numerous complaints from across the country about the assignment of routes, several modifications were made and the U.S. Highway System was approved in November 1926. As a result of compromises made to get the U.S. Highway System approved, many routes divided into two alignments to serve different towns. In subsequent years, the AASHTO called for splits in U.S. Routes to be eliminated. Expansion of the system continued until 1956 when the Interstate Highway System
Interstate Highway System
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, , is a network of limited-access roads including freeways, highways, and expressways forming part of the National Highway System of the United States of America...

 was formed and many U.S. Routes were replaced by Interstate Highways. Despite the Interstate system, U.S. Routes are still used, and often used as alternate routes for Interstate highways during heavy traffic or accidents.

System details

In general, U.S. Routes do not have a minimum design standard, unlike the later Interstate Highways, and are not usually built to freeway standards, although some stretches of U.S. Routes do meet those standards. Many are the main streets of the cities and towns through which they run. However, new additions to the system must "substantially meet the current AASHTO design standards".

Except for toll bridge
Toll bridge
A toll bridge is a bridge over which traffic may pass upon payment of a toll, or fee.- History :The practice of collecting tolls on bridges probably harks back to the days of ferry crossings where people paid a fee to be ferried across stretches of water. As boats became impractical to carry large...

s and tunnels
Toll tunnel
A toll tunnel is a special road tunnel whose construction and/or maintenance costs are in part recouped through a toll charged for passing through it. In some instances, tolls have been removed after retirement of the toll revenue bonds issued to raise funds for construction and/or operation of the...

, very few U.S. Routes are toll road
Toll road
A toll road is a privately or publicly built road for which a driver pays a toll for use. Structures for which tolls are charged include toll bridges and toll tunnels. Non-toll roads are financed using other sources of revenue, most typically fuel tax or general tax funds...

s. AASHTO policy says that a toll road may only be included as a special route, and that "a toll-free routing between the same termini shall continue to be retained and marked as a part of the U.S. Numbered System." Although U.S. Route 3
U.S. Route 3
U.S. Route 3 is a north–south United States highway that runs from its southern terminus in Cambridge, Massachusetts through New Hampshire to its terminus near Third Connecticut Lake at the Canadian border, where the road continues north as Quebec Route 257.In New Hampshire parts of US 3 are...

 meets this obligation, as in New Hampshire, it does not actually follow tolled portions of the Everett Turnpike
Everett Turnpike
The Frederick E. Everett Turnpike, also called the Central New Hampshire Turnpike, is a toll road in New Hampshire, USA, running from the Massachusetts border at Nashua north to Concord...

. However, four toll roads in the system follow this:
  • U.S. Route 51 uses part of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    ; the old road is Illinois Route 251
    Illinois Route 251
    Illinois Route 251 is a north–south state road that runs on the former alignment of U.S. Route 51 before Interstate 39 was built in central Illinois. It runs from U.S. 51 at the border with Wisconsin to I-39 and U.S. 51 south of Kappa. Illinois 251 is long.- Route description :Illinois 251...

    .
  • U.S. Route 278 uses the tolled Cross Island Parkway in South Carolina
    South Carolina
    South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

    ; the old road is U.S. Route 278 Business.
  • U.S. Route 412 uses the Cimarron Turnpike
    Cimarron Turnpike
    The Cimarron Turnpike is a toll road in north-central Oklahoma. Opened to traffic in 1975, the route runs , from a junction with Interstate 35 north of Perry, to Westport, just west of Tulsa. The route also consists of a spur which runs from the mainline southwest to a junction with US-177 north...

     in Oklahoma
    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

    ; the old road is U.S. Route 64.
  • U.S. Route 412 uses the Cherokee Turnpike
    Cherokee Turnpike
    The Cherokee Turnpike is a toll road in eastern Oklahoma. Opened in 1991, the route is a four-lane tollway carrying US-412 from east of Kansas, Oklahoma to east of Chouteau, and has a total length of and a speed limit of...

     in Oklahoma
    Oklahoma
    Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

    ; the old road is U.S. Route 412 Scenic.

Numbering

The two-digit U.S. Routes follow a simple grid, in which odd-numbered routes run generally north to south and even-numbered routes run generally east to west. (U.S. Route 101
U.S. Route 101
U.S. Route 101, or U.S. Highway 101, is an important north–south U.S. highway that runs through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, on the West Coast of the United States...

 is considered a two-digit route, its first "digit" being 10.) The numbering pattern for U.S. Routes is the reverse of that for the Interstate Highway numbers—U.S. Routes proceed from low even numbers in the north to high even numbers in the south, and from low odd numbers in the east to high odd numbers in the west. Numbers ending in 0 or 1 (and U.S. Route 2
U.S. Route 2
U.S. Route 2 is an east–west U.S. Highway spanning across the northern continental United States. US 2 consists of two segments connected by various roadways in southern Canada...

), and to a lesser extent in 5, were considered main routes in the early numbering, but extensions and truncations have made this distinction largely meaningless. For example, U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 , also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to...

 was until 1964 the longest route (that distinction now belongs to U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20 is an east–west United States highway. As the "0" in its route number implies, US 20 is a coast-to-coast route. Spanning , it is the longest road in the United States, and the route sparsely parallels Interstate 90...

). The Interstate Highway System's numbering grid, which has numbers increasing from west-to-east and south-to-north, is intentionally opposite from the U.S. grid, to keep identically numbered routes apart and to keep them from being confused with one another.

Three-digit numbers are assigned to spurs of two-digit routes. For instance, U.S. Route 201
U.S. Route 201
U.S. Route 201 is a spur of U.S. Route 1 in the U.S. state of Maine. US 201 begins in Brunswick. It follows the Kennebec River from Gardiner, Maine, to The Forks where it pulls away from the town and runs into the north woods. Route 201 ends in Sandy Bay Township, where it enters Quebec, Canada at...

 splits from U.S. Route 1
U.S. Route 1
U.S. Route 1 is a major north–south U.S. Highway that serves the East Coast of the United States. It runs 2,377 miles from Fort Kent, Maine at the Canadian border south to Key West, Florida. U.S. 1 generally parallels Interstate 95, though it is significantly farther west between...

 at Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area. Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, , and the...

, and runs north to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. Not all spurs travel in the same direction as their "parents"; some are only connected to their "parents" by other spurs, or not at all, instead only traveling near their "parents". As originally assigned, the first digit of the spurs increased from north to south and east to west along the "parent"; for example, U.S. Route 60 junctioned, from east to west, U.S. Route 160 in Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, U.S. Route 260 in Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, U.S. Route 360 in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and U.S. Route 460
U.S. Route 460
U.S. Route 460 is a spur of U.S. Route 60. It currently runs for 655 miles from Norfolk, Virginia at U.S. Route 60 at Ocean View to Frankfort, Kentucky at U.S. Route 60. It passes through the states of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky...

 and U.S. Route 560 in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

. As with the two-digit routes, three-digit routes have been added, removed, extended and shortened; the "parent-child" relationship is not always present. Several spurs of the decommissioned U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year...

 still exist, and U.S. Route 191
U.S. Route 191
U.S. Route 191 is a spur of U.S. Route 91 that has two branches. The southern branch runs for 1,465 miles from Douglas, Arizona on the Mexican border to the southern part of Yellowstone National Park. The northern branch runs for 440 miles from the northern part of Yellowstone National Park to...

 travels from border to border, while U.S. Route 91
U.S. Route 91
U.S. Route 91 is a north–south United States highway. The highway currently serves as a connection between the Cache Valley area of Utah and Idaho to the Salt Lake and Idaho Falls population centers. Prior the mid-1970s, U.S. 91 was an international commerce route from Long Beach, California...

 has been largely replaced by Interstate 15
Interstate 15
Interstate 15 is the fourth-longest north–south Interstate Highway in the United States, traveling through the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana from San Diego to the Canadian border...

.

Several routes approved since 1980 do not follow the numbering pattern:
  • U.S. Route 400
    U.S. Route 400
    U.S. Route 400 is a mostly east–west U.S. Highway, commissioned in 1994. Its route number is a "violation" of the usual AASHTO numbering scheme, as there is no US 0 or US 100....

    , approved in 1994, has no "parent" since there is no U.S. Route 0 or U.S. Route 100.
  • U.S. Route 412
    U.S. Route 412
    U.S. Route 412 is an east–west United States highway, first commissioned in 1982. Its route number is a "violation" of the usual AASHTO numbering scheme, as it comes nowhere near its implied "parent", US 12. U.S...

    , approved ca. 1982, is nowhere near U.S. Route 12
    U.S. Route 12
    U.S. Route 12 or US 12 is an east–west United States highway, running from Grays Harbor on the Pacific Ocean, in the state of Washington, to downtown Detroit, for almost . As a thoroughfare, it has mostly been supplanted by I-90 and I-94, but remains an important road for local travel.The...

    .
  • U.S. Route 425
    U.S. Route 425
    U.S. Route 425 is a north–south United States highway, first commissioned in 1989. Its route number is a "violation" of the usual AASHTO numbering scheme, as it comes nowhere near its implied "parent", U.S. Route 25....

    , approved in 1989, is nowhere near U.S. Route 25
    U.S. Route 25
    U.S. Route 25 is a north–south United States highway that runs for from Brunswick, Georgia to the Ohio state line in Covington, Kentucky.-Georgia:...

    .


In addition, U.S. Route 163
U.S. Route 163
U.S. Route 163 is a U.S. Highway that runs from US 160 northward to US 191 in the U.S. states of Arizona and Utah. The southernmost of its length is within the Navajo Nation. The highway forms part of the Trail of the Ancients, a National Scenic Byway...

, designated in 1970, is nowhere near U.S. Route 63
U.S. Route 63
U.S. Route 63 is a long north–south United States highway primarily in the Midwestern United States. The southern terminus of the route is at Interstate 20 in Ruston, Louisiana. The northern terminus is at U.S. Route 2 in Benoit, Wisconsin, about east of Duluth, Minnesota. It is not related to U.S...

. The short U.S. Route 57
U.S. Route 57
U.S. Highway 57 is a north–south United States highway that follows a nearly east–west route in southwest Texas. The highway's northern terminus is about south of San Antonio, Texas, between Devine and Pearsall, at an intersection with Interstate 35...

, approved ca. 1970, connects to Federal Highway 57
Mexican Federal Highway 57
Mexican Federal Highway 57 is a Federal Highway of Mexico.The 1248 kilometre highway connects Mexico City with Piedras Negras, Coahuila. This road links many major highways in the country, forming the backbone of the road network in Mexico...

 in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, and lies west of former U.S. Route 81
U.S. Route 81
U.S. Route 81 is one of the many United States Numbered Highways established in 1926 by the US Department of Agriculture Bureau of Public Roads....

.

While AASHTO guidelines specifically prohibit Interstate Highways and U.S. Routes from sharing a number within the same state (which is why there are no Interstates 50 or 60), the initial Interstate numbering approved in 1958 violated this with Interstate 24
Interstate 24
Interstate 24 is an Interstate Highway in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. It runs diagonally from Interstate 57 to Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Interstate 75....

 and U.S. Route 24
U.S. Route 24
U.S. Route 24 is one of the original United States highways of 1926. It originally ran from Pontiac, Michigan, in the east to Kansas City, Missouri, in the west. Today, the highway's eastern terminus is west of Clarkston, Michigan, at an intersection with I-75 and its western terminus is near...

 in Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and Interstate 40
Interstate 40
Interstate 40 is the third-longest major east–west Interstate Highway in the United States, after I-90 and I-80. Its western end is at Interstate 15 in Barstow, California; its eastern end is at a concurrency of U.S. Route 117 and North Carolina Highway 132 in Wilmington, North Carolina...

, Interstate 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

, U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 40 is an east–west United States highway. As with most routes whose numbers end in a zero, U.S. 40 once traversed the entire United States. It is one of the original 1920s U.S. Highways, and its first termini were San Francisco, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey...

 and U.S. Route 80
U.S. Route 80
U.S. Route 80 is an east–west United States highway, much of which was once part of the early auto trail known as the Dixie Overland Highway. As the "0" in the route number indicates, it was originally a cross-country route, from the Atlantic to the Pacific...

 in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 (US 40 and US 80 were removed from California in its 1964 renumbering). Some recent and proposed Interstates, some of them out-of-place in the grid, also violate this: Interstate 41 and U.S. Route 41
U.S. Route 41
U.S. Route 41 is a north–south United States Highway that runs from Miami, Florida to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Until 1949, the part in southern Florida, from Naples to Miami, was U.S...

 in Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 (which will run concurrently), Interstate 49
Interstate 49
Interstate 49 is currently an intrastate Interstate Highway located entirely within the state of Louisiana in the southern United States. Its southern terminus is in Lafayette, Louisiana, at Interstate 10 while its northern terminus is in Shreveport, Louisiana, at Interstate 20.-Route...

 and U.S. Route 49
U.S. Route 49
U.S. Route 49 is a north–south United States highway. The highway's northern terminus is in Piggott, Arkansas, at an intersection with U.S. Route 62. Its southern terminus is in Gulfport, Mississippi, at an intersection with U.S. Route 90. US 49 is approximately 516 miles in length.It...

 in Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Interstate 69
Interstate 69
Interstate 69 is an Interstate Highway in the United States. It exists in two parts: a completed highway from Indianapolis, Indiana, northeast to the Canadian border in Port Huron, Michigan, and a mostly proposed extension southwest to the Mexican border in Texas...

 and U.S. Route 69
U.S. Route 69
U.S. Route 69 is a north–south United States highway. When it was first created, it was only long, but it has since been expanded into a Minnesota to Texas cross-country route. The highway's southern terminus is in Port Arthur, Texas at an intersection with State Highway 87...

 in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and Interstate 74
Interstate 74
Interstate 74 is an Interstate Highway in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Its western end is at an intersection with Interstate 80 in Davenport, Iowa; the eastern end of its Midwest segment is at an intersection with Interstate 75 in Cincinnati, Ohio...

 and U.S. Route 74
U.S. Route 74
U.S. Route 74 is an east–west United States highway that runs for from Cleveland, Tennessee to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.-Tennessee:Established in 1987, US-74 western terminus is exit 20 on I-75 in Cleveland...

 in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 (which run concurrently).

For reasons unknown to even the Department of Transportation, there were never any U.S. Routes numbered 39, 47, 86 and 88.

Divided and special routes

Divided routes have been around since 1926, and designate roughly-equivalent splits of routes. For instance, U.S. Route 11
U.S. Route 11
U.S. Route 11 is a north–south United States highway extending 1,645 miles across the eastern United States. The southern terminus of the route is at U.S. Route 90 in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Orleans, Louisiana. The northern terminus is at the United...

 splits into U.S. Route 11E
U.S. Route 11E
U.S. Route 11E is a divided highway of US 11 in the U.S. states of Tennessee and Virginia. The U.S. Highway, which is complemented by US 11W to the north and west, runs from US 11, US 11W, and US 70 in Knoxville, Tennessee north and east to US 11, US 11E, US 19, and US 421 in Bristol, Virginia...

 (east) and U.S. Route 11W
U.S. Route 11W
U.S. Route 11W is a divided highway of US 11 in the U.S. states of Tennessee and Virginia. The U.S. Highway, which is complemented by US 11E to the south and east, runs from US 11, US 11E, and US 70 in Knoxville, Tennessee north and east to US 11, US 11E, US 19, and US 421 in Bristol, Virginia...

 (west) in Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

, and the routes rejoin in Bristol, Virginia
Bristol, Virginia
Bristol is an independent city in Virginia, United States, bounded by Washington County, Virginia, Bristol, Tennessee, and Sullivan County, Tennessee....

. Occasionally only one of the two routes is suffixed; U.S. Route 6N
U.S. Route 6N
U.S. Route 6N is a long auxiliary route of U.S. Route 6 located in Erie County, Pennsylvania. The western terminus is at U.S. Route 20 in West Springfield a half-mile north of Interstate 90 exit 3. Its eastern terminus is at U.S. Route 6 and U.S...

 in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 does not rejoin U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 , also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to...

 at its west end. AASHTO has been trying to eliminate these since 1934; its current policy is to deny approval of new ones and to eliminate existing ones "as rapidly as the State Highway Department and the Standing Committee on Highways can reach agreement with reference thereto".
Special routes—those with a banner such as alternate
Alternate route
An official alternate route is a special route in the United States that provides an alternate alignment for a highway. They are loop roads and found in many road systems in the United States including the U.S. Route system and various state route systems...

 or bypass
Bypass (road)
A bypass is a road or highway that avoids or "bypasses" a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety....

—are also managed by AASHTO. These are sometimes designated with lettered suffixes, like A for alternate or B for business.

Naming

The official route log, last published by AASHTO in 1989, has been named United States Numbered Highways since its initial publication in 1926. Within the route log, "U.S. Route" is used in the table of contents, while "United States Highway" appears as the heading for each route. All reports of the Special Committee on Route Numbering since 1989, use "U.S. Route", and federal laws relating to highways use "United States Route" or "U.S. Route" more often than the "Highway" variants. The use of U.S. Route or U.S. Highway on a local level depends on the state, with some states such as Delaware using "route" and others such as Colorado using "highway".

Early auto trails

In the early 1910s, auto trail
Auto trail
The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on telephone poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.Auto trails were...

 organizations—most prominently the Lincoln Highway
Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the United States of America.Conceived and promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey,...

 - began to spring up, marking and promoting routes for long-distance automobile travel. While many of these organizations worked with towns and states along the route to improve the roadways, others simply chose a route based on towns that were willing to pay dues, put up signs, and did little else.

Planning

Wisconsin was the first state in the U.S. to number its highways, erecting signs in May 1918. Other states soon followed, and the New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 states got together in 1922 to establish the six-state New England Interstate Routes
New England Interstate Routes
The New England road marking system was an interstate system of marked numbered routes in New England. The routes were marked by a yellow rectangular shield with black numbers and border. Many shields were painted on telephone poles...

.

Behind the scenes, the federal aid program had begun with the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1916
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1916 (Bankhead-Shackleford Act)
Sponsored by Sen. John H. Bankhead of Alabama and Rep. Dorsey W. Shackleford of Missouri, it provided $75 million of Federal money in 50-50 matching funds to the states up to 6% of the roads statewide over a 5 year period. It was overseen by the American Association of State Highway Officials ...

, providing 50% monetary support from the federal government for improvement of major roads. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 (Phipps Act)
The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921, November 9, 1921, ,sponsored by Sen. Lawrence C. Phipps of Colorado, defined the Federal Aid Road program to develop an immense national highway system. The plan was crafted by the head of the National Highway Commission, Thomas MacDonald and was the first...

 limited the routes to 7% of each state's roads, while 3/7 had to be "interstate in character". Identification of these main roads was completed in 1923.

The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), formed in 1914 to help establish roadway standards, began to plan a system of marked and numbered "interstate highways" at its 1924 meeting. AASHO recommended that the Secretary of Agriculture work with the states to designate these routes.

Secretary Howard M. Gore appointed the Joint Board on Interstate Highways, as recommended by AASHO, on March 2, 1925. The Board was composed of 21 state highway officials and three federal Bureau of Public Roads officials. At the first meeting, on April 20 and 21, the name—U.S. Highway—was adopted. It was also decided that the system would not be limited to the federal-aid network; if the best route did not receive federal funds, it would still be included. The tentative design for the U.S. Highway shield was also adopted, based on the shield found on the Great Seal of the United States
Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the United States federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself , and more generally for the design impressed upon it...

.

Opposition soon formed from the auto trail
Auto trail
The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on telephone poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.Auto trails were...

 associations, who rejected the elimination of the highway names. Six regional meetings were held to hammer out the details—May 15 for the West, May 27 for the Mississippi Valley, June 3 for the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

, June 8 for the South, June 15 for the North Atlantic
Atlantic Northeast
The Atlantic Northeast, or Arcadia, is a region of North America, comprising New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. Definitions of the region vary; it may extend to upstate New York and/or all of Atlantic Canada....

, and June 15 for New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

. The auto trail associations were not able to address the meetings. However, as a compromise, they talked with the Joint Board members and came up with a general agreement with their plans. The tentative system added up to 81,000 miles (130,000 km), 2.8% of the public road mileage at the time.
The second full meeting was held August 3 and 4, 1925. At that meeting, discussion was held over the appropriate density of routes. William F. Williams of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 and Frederick S. Greene of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 favored a system of only major transcontinental highways, while many states recommended a large number of roads of only regional importance. Greene in particular intended New York's system of only four major through routes as an example to the other states. Many states agreed in general with the scope of the system, but believed the Midwest to have added too many routes. The shield, with few modifications from the original sketch, was adopted at that meeting, as was the decision to number rather than name the routes. A preliminary numbering system, with eight major west–east and ten major north–south routes, was deferred to a numbering committee "without instructions".

After working with states to get their approval, the system had expanded to 75,800 miles (122,000 km), or 2.6% of total mileage, over 50% more than the plan approved August 4. The skeleton of the numbering plan was suggested on August 27 by Edwin Warley James of the BPR, who matched parity to direction, and laid out a rough grid. Major routes from the earlier map were assigned numbers ending in 0, 1 or 5 (5 was soon relegated to less-major status), and short connections received three-digit numbers based on the main highway they spurred from. The five-man committee met September 25, and submitted the final report to the Joint Board secretary on October 26. The board sent the report to the Secretary of Agriculture of October 30, and he approved it November 18, 1925.

Disagreement and refinement 1925–1926

The new system was both praised and criticized by local newspapers, often depending on whether that city ended up on a major route. While the Lincoln Highway Association understood and supported the plan, partly because they were assured of getting the U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30 is an east–west main route of the system of United States Numbered Highways, with the highway traveling across the northern tier of the country. It is the third longest U.S. route, after U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 6. The western end of the highway is at Astoria, Oregon; the...

 designation as much as possible, most other trail associations lamented their obsolescence. At their January 14–15, 1926 meeting, AASHO was flooded with complaints.

In the Northeast, New York still wanted fewer routes, and Pennsylvania, which had been absent from the local meetings, convinced AASHO to add a dense network of routes, which had the effect of giving six routes termini along the state line. (Only U.S. Route 220
U.S. Route 220
U.S. Route 220 is a long U.S. Route in the eastern United States.US 220 is a spur route of U.S. Route 20 but at present, the two routes do not intersect nor do they connect via other spurs of US 20. The former U. S. Route 120, which was signed in Pennsylvania between 1926 and 1967, intersected...

 still ends near the state line, and now it ends at an intersection with future Interstate 86.) The indirect nature of U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20 is an east–west United States highway. As the "0" in its route number implies, US 20 is a coast-to-coast route. Spanning , it is the longest road in the United States, and the route sparsely parallels Interstate 90...

, passing through Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

, led Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

 and Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 to request that U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30 is an east–west main route of the system of United States Numbered Highways, with the highway traveling across the northern tier of the country. It is the third longest U.S. route, after U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 6. The western end of the highway is at Astoria, Oregon; the...

 be swapped with US 20 to the Pacific coast
Pacific Coast
A country's Pacific coast is the part of its coast bordering the Pacific Ocean.-The Americas:Countries on the western side of the Americas have a Pacific coast as their western border.* Geography of Canada* Geography of Chile* Geography of Colombia...

.

Many local disputes centered on the choice between two roughly equal parallel routes, often competing auto trails. At their January meeting, AASHO approved the first two of many split routes (specifically U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 40 is an east–west United States highway. As with most routes whose numbers end in a zero, U.S. 40 once traversed the entire United States. It is one of the original 1920s U.S. Highways, and its first termini were San Francisco, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey...

 between Manhattan, KS and Limon, CO and U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 50 is a major east–west route of the U.S. Highway system, stretching just over from Ocean City, Maryland on the Atlantic Ocean to West Sacramento, California. Until 1972, when it was replaced by Interstate Highways west of the Sacramento area, it extended to San Francisco, near...

 between Baldwin City, KS and Garden City, KS). In effect, each of the two routes received the same number, with a directional suffix indicating its relation to the other. These splits were initially shown in the log as—for instance—US 40 North and US 40 South, but were always posted as simply US 40N and US 40S.

The most heated argument, however, was the issue of US 60. The Joint Board had assigned that number to the Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

-Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 route, which ran east from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City
Oklahoma city
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.Oklahoma City may also refer to:*Oklahoma City metropolitan area*Downtown Oklahoma City*Uptown Oklahoma City*Oklahoma City bombing*Oklahoma City National Memorial...

, but then angled sharply to the northeast, running more north–south than west–east in Illinois. Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 strongly objected to this, as it had been left off any of the major west–east routes, instead receiving the U.S. Route 62 designation. This, along with the part of U.S. Route 52
U.S. Route 52
U.S. Route 52 is a United States highway that runs across the northern, eastern and southeastern regions of the United States. Contrary to most other even-numbered U.S...

 east of Ashland, KY, was assigned the U.S. Route 60
U.S. Route 60
U.S. Route 60 is an east–west United States highway, running from the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast in Virginia to western Arizona. Despite the final "0" in its number, indicating a transcontinental designation, the 1926 route formerly ended in Springfield, Missouri, at its intersection...

 number in January 1926, while US 62 was given to the Chicago-Los Angeles route, contingent on the approval of the states along the former US 60. But Missouri and Oklahoma did object—Missouri had already printed maps, and Oklahoma had prepared signs. A compromise was proposed, in which US 60 would split at Springfield, MO into US 60E and US 60N, but both sides objected. The final solution resulted in the assignment of U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year...

, which did not end in zero, but was still seen as a nice round number.

With 32 states already marking their routes, the plan was approved by AASHO on November 11, 1926. This plan included a number of directionally split routes, several discontinuous routes (including U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 6 , also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to...

, U.S. Route 19
U.S. Route 19
U.S. Route 19 is a north–south U.S. Highway. Despite encroaching Interstate Highways, the route has remained a long-haul route, connecting the Gulf of Mexico with Lake Erie....

 and U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 50 is a major east–west route of the U.S. Highway system, stretching just over from Ocean City, Maryland on the Atlantic Ocean to West Sacramento, California. Until 1972, when it was replaced by Interstate Highways west of the Sacramento area, it extended to San Francisco, near...

), and some termini at state lines. Major numbering changes had been made in Pennsylvania by the publishing of the first route log in April 1927, in order to align the routes to the auto trails, and U.S. Route 15
U.S. Route 15
U.S. Route 15 is a -long United States highway, designated along South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. The route is signed north–south, from U.S. Route 17 Alternate in Walterboro, South Carolina to Interstate 86 and NY 17 in Painted Post, New York.US...

 had been extended across Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

.

Much of the early criticism of the U.S. Highway System focused on the choice of numbers to designate the highways, rather than names. Some saw a numbered highway system as cold and heartless compared to the more colorful names of the auto trail systems. The New York Times wrote, "The traveler may shed tears as he drives the Lincoln Highway
Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the United States of America.Conceived and promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey,...

 or dream dreams as he speeds over the Jefferson Highway
Jefferson Highway
The Jefferson Highway was an automobile highway stretching through the central United States from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jefferson Highway was replaced with the new numbered US Highway system in the late 1920s...

, but how can he get a 'kick' out of 46, 55 or 33 or 21?" The writer Ernest McGaffey was quoted as saying, "Logarithms will take the place of legends, and 'hokum' for history.":

Expansion and adjustment: 1926–1956

When the U.S. numbered system was started in 1925, a few optional routings were established which were designated with a suffixed letter after the number indicating "north," "south," "east," or "west". While there are still a few roads in the system numbered in this manner, it is believed that they should be eliminated wherever possible, by the absorption of one of the optional routes into another route.

In 1934, AASHO attempted to eliminate many of the split routes by removing them from the log, and designating one of each pair as a three-digit or alternate route, or in one case U.S. Route 37. AASHO described its renumbering concept in the October 1934 issue of American Highways:

Wherever an alternate route is not suitable for its own unique two-digit designation, standard procedure assigns the unqualified number to the older or shorter route, while the other route uses the same number marked by a standard strip above its shield carrying the word "Alternate." Most states adhere to this approach. However, some maintain legacy routes which violate the usual rules in various ways. Examples can be found in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

. In 1952, AASHO permanently recognized the splits in U.S. Route 11
U.S. Route 11
U.S. Route 11 is a north–south United States highway extending 1,645 miles across the eastern United States. The southern terminus of the route is at U.S. Route 90 in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in eastern New Orleans, Louisiana. The northern terminus is at the United...

, U.S. Route 19
U.S. Route 19
U.S. Route 19 is a north–south U.S. Highway. Despite encroaching Interstate Highways, the route has remained a long-haul route, connecting the Gulf of Mexico with Lake Erie....

, U.S. Route 25
U.S. Route 25
U.S. Route 25 is a north–south United States highway that runs for from Brunswick, Georgia to the Ohio state line in Covington, Kentucky.-Georgia:...

, U.S. Route 31
U.S. Route 31
U.S. Route 31 is a long north–south highway connecting northern Michigan to southern Alabama, with its northern terminus at Interstate 75 near Mackinaw City, Michigan, and southern terminus at the combined U.S. Route 90 & U.S. Route 98 at Spanish Fort, Alabama...

, U.S. Route 45
U.S. Route 45
U.S. Route 45 is a north–south United States highway. US 45 is a border-to-border route, from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico. A sign at the highway's northern terminus notes the total distance as ....

, U.S. Route 49
U.S. Route 49
U.S. Route 49 is a north–south United States highway. The highway's northern terminus is in Piggott, Arkansas, at an intersection with U.S. Route 62. Its southern terminus is in Gulfport, Mississippi, at an intersection with U.S. Route 90. US 49 is approximately 516 miles in length.It...

, U.S. Route 73
U.S. Route 73
U.S. Route 73 is a north–south United States highway that runs for 112 miles from northeast Kansas to southeast Nebraska. The highway's southern terminus is Bonner Springs, Kansas at Interstate 70. Its northern terminus is near Dawson, Nebraska at U.S. Highway 75.-Kansas:U.S. Route 73...

, and U.S. Route 99
U.S. Route 99
U.S. Route 99 was the main north–south highway on the West Coast of the United States until 1964, running from Calexico, California, on the U.S.-Mexico border to Blaine, Washington, on the U.S.-Canada border. It was a route of the United States Numbered Highways, assigned in 1926 and existing...

.

General expansion and the occasional elimination continued to occur through the years. One of the more interesting cases was the proposed extension of U.S. Route 97
U.S. Route 97
U.S. Route 97 is a major north–south United States highway in the western United States. It begins at a junction with Interstate 5 at Weed, California, and travels north, ending in Okanogan County, Washington, at the Canadian Border, across from Osoyoos, British Columbia, becoming British...

 to Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 along the Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous U.S. to Alaska through Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon...

, canceled because the Canadian Yukon Territory refused to renumber its section as 97.

For the most part, the U.S. Routes remained the primary method of inter-city travel; the main exceptions were toll road
Toll road
A toll road is a privately or publicly built road for which a driver pays a toll for use. Structures for which tolls are charged include toll bridges and toll tunnels. Non-toll roads are financed using other sources of revenue, most typically fuel tax or general tax funds...

s such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Pennsylvania Turnpike
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a toll highway system operated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States. The three sections of the turnpike system total . The main section extends from Ohio to New Jersey and is long...

 and parkway
Parkway
The term parkway has several distinct principal meanings and numerous synonyms around the world, for either a type of landscaped area or a type of road.Type of landscaped area:...

 routes such as the Merritt Parkway
Merritt Parkway
The Merritt Parkway is a historic limited-access parkway in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The parkway is known for its scenic layout, its uniquely styled signage, and the architecturally elaborate overpasses along the route. It is designated as a National Scenic Byway and is also listed in the...

. Many of the first high-speed roads were U.S. Highways: the Gulf Freeway carried U.S. Route 75
U.S. Route 75
U.S. Route 75 is a north–south U.S. Highway. The highway's northern terminus is in Kittson County, Minnesota, at the Canadian border, where it continues as Manitoba Highway 75 on the other side of a closed border crossing. Its southern terminus is at Interstate 30 and Interstate 45 in Dallas,...

, the Pasadena Freeway
Pasadena Freeway
The Arroyo Seco Parkway, formerly known as the Pasadena Freeway, is the first freeway in California and the western United States. It connects Los Angeles with Pasadena alongside the Arroyo Seco. It is notable not only for being the first, mostly opened in 1940, but for representing the...

 carried U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year...

, and the Pulaski Skyway
Pulaski Skyway
The General Pulaski Skyway is a four-lane freeway composed of connected bridges in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of New Jersey, carrying the designation of U.S. Route 1/9 for most of its length. The landmark structure has a total length of with the longest bridge spanning...

 carried U.S. Route 1
U.S. Route 1
U.S. Route 1 is a major north–south U.S. Highway that serves the East Coast of the United States. It runs 2,377 miles from Fort Kent, Maine at the Canadian border south to Key West, Florida. U.S. 1 generally parallels Interstate 95, though it is significantly farther west between...

 and U.S. Route 9
U.S. Route 9
U.S. Route 9 is a north–south United States highway in the states of Delaware, New Jersey, and New York in the United States. It is one of only two U.S. highways with a ferry connection ; the other being US 10. US 9 is signed east–west in Delaware and north–south on the rest of...

.

Interstate era 1956–present

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 appropriated funding for the Interstate Highway System, a vast network of freeways across the country. By 1957, AASHTO had decided to assign a new grid—numbered in the opposite directions as the U.S. Highway grid—to the new routes. Though the Interstate numbers were to supplement, rather than replace, the U.S. Route numbers, in many cases (especially in the west) they were routed along the new Interstates. Major decommissioning began with California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

's highway renumbering in 1964, and the 1985 removal of U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66
U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year...

 is often seen as the end of an era.

The last major U.S. Route to be constructed was US 12 on the Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

 side of Lolo Pass
Lolo Pass (Idaho-Montana)
Lolo Pass, elevation , is a mountain pass in the United States, in the Bitterroot Range of the northern Rocky Mountains. It is on the border between the states of Montana and Idaho, approximately west-southwest of Missoula, Montana....

, completed in 1962. The last remaining segment of unpaved U.S. Route was US 183
U.S. Route 183
U.S. Route 183 is a north–south United States highway. U.S. 183 was the last US route to be completely paved. The 20 mile segment in Loup County, Nebraska, north of Taylor, was unpaved until 1967. The highway's northern terminus is in Presho, South Dakota, at an intersection with...

 between the villages of Rose and Taylor, Nebraska
Taylor, Nebraska
Taylor is a village in Loup County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 207 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Loup County.-Geography:Taylor is located at ....

, which was paved ca. 1967.

In 1995 the National Highway System
National Highway System (United States)
The National Highway System is a network of strategic highways within the United States, including the Interstate Highway System and other roads serving major airports, ports, rail or truck terminals, railway stations, pipeline terminals and other strategic transport facilities.Individual states...

 was defined which included both the Interstate Highway System and also other roads, which are important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility.

AASHTO has recognized that state highways are now symbols of good roads as the U.S. Routes once were. Thus it has acted to rationalize the system by eliminating all intrastate U.S. Highways less than 300 miles (480 km) in length "as rapidly as the State Highway Department and the Standing Committee on Highways of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials can reach agreement with reference thereto". New additions to the system must serve more than one state and "substantially meet the current AASHTO design standards".

The 1925 routes

The original major transcontinental routes in 1925, along with the auto trail
Auto trail
The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on telephone poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.Auto trails were...

s which they roughly replaced, were as follows:
  • U.S. Route 1, Fort Kent, ME to Miami, FL: Atlantic Highway
  • U.S. Route 11, Rouses Point, NY to New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. Route 21, Cleveland, OH to Jacksonville, FL (where it met US 1)
  • U.S. Route 31, Mackinaw City, MI to Mobile, AL
  • U.S. Route 41, Copper Harbor, MI to Naples, FL: Dixie Highway
    Dixie Highway
    The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States. It was part of the National Auto Trail system, and grew out of an earlier Miami to Montreal highway. The final result is better understood as a small network of...

  • U.S. Route 51, Hurley, WI to New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. Route 61, Canadian border north of Grand Marais, MN to New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. Route 71, International Falls, MN to Baton Rouge, LA (where it met US 61): Jefferson Highway
    Jefferson Highway
    The Jefferson Highway was an automobile highway stretching through the central United States from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Jefferson Highway was replaced with the new numbered US Highway system in the late 1920s...

  • U.S. Route 81, Canadian border north of Pembina, ND to Laredo, TX: Meridian Highway
  • U.S. Route 91, Great Falls, MT to south of Las Vegas, NV
  • U.S. Route 101, Port Angeles, WA to San Diego, CA: Pacific Highway
    Pacific Highway (US)
    Pacific Highway is the name of several north-south highways in the Pacific Coast region of the Western United States, either by legislation officially designating it as such or by common usage....

  • U.S. Route 2, Houlton, ME to Bonners Ferry, ID
  • U.S. Route 10, Detroit, MI to Seattle, WA: National Parks Highway
  • U.S. Route 20, Boston, MA
    Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

     to Newport, OR
  • U.S. Route 30, Atlantic City, NJ to Astoria, OR: Lincoln Highway
    Lincoln Highway
    The Lincoln Highway was the first road across the United States of America.Conceived and promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New York, New Jersey,...

  • U.S. Route 40, Atlantic City, NJ to San Francisco, CA: Victory Highway
    Victory Highway
    The Victory Highway was an auto trail across the United States between New York City and San Francisco, roughly equivalent to the present U.S. Route 40.-History:...

  • U.S. Route 50, Annapolis, MD to Wadsworth, NV (where it met US 40)
  • U.S. Route 60, Chicago, IL
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

     to Los Angeles, CA
  • U.S. Route 70, Morehead City, NC to Holbrook, AZ (where it met US 60)
  • U.S. Route 80, Savannah, GA
    Savannah, Georgia
    Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

     to San Diego, CA: Dixie Overland Highway
  • U.S. Route 90, Jacksonville, FL to Van Horn, TX (where it met US 80): Old Spanish Trail
    Old Spanish Trail (auto trail)
    The Old Spanish Trail auto highway once spanned the country with a full of roadway from ocean to ocean crossing 67 counties and eight states along the Southern border of the United States. Work on the auto highway began in 1915 and, by the 1920s, the trail linked St. Augustine, Florida, to San...


  • Note that 10, 60, and 90 only ran about two-thirds of the way across the country, while 11 and 60 ran significantly diagonally. The way in which US 60 violated two of the conventions would prove to be one of the major sticking points; US 60 eventually became the famous U.S. Route 66
    U.S. Route 66
    U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926 -- with road signs erected the following year...

     in 1926. U.S. Route 101 actually continues east and then south to end at Olympia, Washington. The western terminus of U.S. Route 2 is now at Everett, Washington.

    See also

    • List of roads and highways
    • List of United States Numbered Highways
    • National Highway System (United States)
      National Highway System (United States)
      The National Highway System is a network of strategic highways within the United States, including the Interstate Highway System and other roads serving major airports, ports, rail or truck terminals, railway stations, pipeline terminals and other strategic transport facilities.Individual states...

    • United States Numbered Bicycle Routes
      United States Numbered Bicycle Routes
      United States numbered bicycle routes are regional bicycle routes in the United States. They are the bicycle equivalent to the system of United States numbered highways. The system consisted of only two routes from its inception in 1982, until its first major expansion in 2011. Currently seven...


    External links

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