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Width of roadways in the 1920's

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Width of roadways in the 1920's
Posted by rrebell on Monday, August 11, 2014 1:18 AM

Was trying to fiqure our where to put roads and the width on my layout. From what I gathered a two lane road (no parking) was about 15' and a single lane dirt around 9' (any parking would be off the side). Dose this seem right to you?

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, August 11, 2014 2:22 AM

rrebell:

I think 15' might be ok for a rural 2 lane dirt road but it would be the sort of situation where opposing vehicles would have to slow down and move partly on to the shoulder to be safe. If you are modelling something more urban where opposing traffic would not need to slow down on approach then the lanes would need to be wider. That of course is in the real world. You can fudge things a bit (or a lot) when modelling your roads.

Personally I think roads are a huge opportunity for a bit of forced persective. Have a look at the roads by Heartland Division Cb&Q in this thread. The width of his roads are not constant. Instead the roads narrow as they go further away from the viewer:

(MR has still not fixed the problem with copying threads from within the forum. To view the link below, highlight it and then right click on it and then select "Open Link" (or whatever sounds similar in your browser). Hopefully the link will happen).

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/p/229997/2570671.aspx#2570671

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by DSchmitt on Monday, August 11, 2014 3:17 AM

The "ideal" section for the Lincoln Highway from the 1920's was "concrete 40'wide, "capable of carrying four lanes of traffic and flankesd on each side by pedestrian side paths" in a 110' right of way.  An 1-1/3 mile Ideal Section was built near Dyer Indiana in 1922.   Most of the road was built to lower standards.

The first Federal -Aid Road was built in 1918, it  was 2.55 miles long between Albany and Richmond California. It was surfaces with bituminous conctete over a Portland cement concrete base.  The pavement was 20' wide.

There was an oiled earth road between Winters and Davis California in 1906.  In a photograph it appears to be at least 18' wide.

The few photos I looked at (all in California) of roads prior to the 1930's appear to be 18' wide or wider.  Most gravel surfaced. 

There was a large road building program in the US after World War 1.  Much of the equipment used for the projects was provided by the Federal government to the States and local jurisdictions at little or no cost.  It was equipment built for the war effort declared surplus when the war ended.

In California many early paved roads were initially paved only one lane wide with paved turnouts to allow opposing traffic to pass. This was to maximize the miles of paved roads in the State.  In dry weather it was possible to operate two lanes of traffic, but the unpaved portions were often not traversable after rain.

Much of the main road between Sacramento and Marysville CA was still gravel in 1943.  In photos it appears to be about 30' wide.

We think of truck of the period as considerbly smaller than modernn trucks.  While generally true there were some trucks on the roads that are not legal under todays regulations because of their width.

The street widths in towns were basically the same as today.  Many probably gravel surfaced between concrete curbs although paving was done in towns earlier than paving on rural roads..

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, August 11, 2014 12:06 PM

I remember gravel roads in Canada as a kid, just wide enough for two grain trucks to pass at slow speed, and I mean just. I fiqued I would do cement to fit the period.  As to my senerio, most of the roads will be rural with two towns also. Will add one lane of parking in town also, about another 6'. Thanks for the info by the way, if I was doing an early highway, I like the 20' info, who knows, since the towns are not built yet, things might change.

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Posted by jmbjmb on Monday, August 11, 2014 10:01 PM

So much depends on where you are and the road.  When I was a kid in the 60s/70s the highway in front of my house would easily handle today's big rigs with room to spare on a 2 lane road of heavy asphalt.  Yet other roads were tight for cars with a macadam surface, and others were still gravel.  In Colorado throughtout the 90s and I assume today even though I no longer live there, were many roads that were still gravel.  Here in Tennessee today, the road in front of my house is just 18 feet and cars have to slow to pass.

 

jim

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:14 AM

Thats why I asked about 1920's even though I model 1939 (give or take), I fiqured the roads would be from the 20's or before.

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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:40 AM

rrebell

Thats why I asked about 1920's even though I model 1939 (give or take), I fiqured the roads would be from the 20's or before.

 

Actually as i staded before major road building and rebuilding programs started after WW1 which on going until the beginning of WW2.  Many roads were widened and paved by 1939 and in the late 30's the first freeways in the US werre built

 

This link is to the 1935 MUTCD  (Signing and pavement marking manual)

https://ceprofs.civil.tamu.edu/ghawkins/MUTCD-History_files/1935%20MUTCD.pdf

 

A history of the MUTCD and links to historic manuals is here:

https://ceprofs.civil.tamu.edu/ghawkins/MUTCD-History.htm

 

 

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 8:52 AM

In the 1920s, paved roads were still few and far between in many rural areas. Around the Midwest, "slab" roads were becoming common along major routes. Sometimes these were paved, but narrow two-lane roads, with each lane no more than 9 feet wide, sometimes only 8. There were few state or national standards, so local folks thought it was a big economy to keep things narrow.

In many case, some of which still exist, there was only a single, paved lane, with the other remaining gravel. Again, most were narrower than 10'. In some cases, the gravel side was eventually replaced by asphalt, with the other side remaining concrete slab.

Also remember that shoulders in rural areas with these narrow roads often saw some improvements, usually packed gravel, but in some cases paved when incresing traffic eventually required wider lanes.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

SBX
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Posted by SBX on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 9:37 AM

Sounds like the roads around here once you get out in the country (Ipswich, Suffolk, UK). I drove a friend of mine from Windsor Locks CT down one single track road with passing spaces to get to a pub and he was - frankly - scared :-)

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Posted by JAMES MOON on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 9:50 AM

In 1949 as a 7 year old, I made my first trip through North Dakota.   All of the roads were gravel including the US Highways.  We continued on north to Manitoba which had more gravel roads with about 10 miles of paved highway south of Brandon, MB.  On north going up the west side of Manitoba the roads turned from gravel to just plain dirt roads.  I have a 1949 highway map of North Dakota found in my grandfather's house upon his passing that indicated that North Dakota had no paved roads in 1949.  So, parts of the US in 1939 were pretty void of paved roads including my home state of Iowa.  By 1951 almost all major highways in North Dakota had been paved with asphalt and stone macadam and were very wide.  Would guess they were at least 26 ft wide.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:22 AM

JAMES MOON

In 1949 as a 7 year old, I made my first trip through North Dakota.   All of the roads were gravel including the US Highways.  We continued on north to Manitoba which had more gravel roads with about 10 miles of paved highway south of Brandon, MB.  On north going up the west side of Manitoba the roads turned from gravel to just plain dirt roads.  I have a 1949 highway map of North Dakota found in my grandfather's house upon his passing that indicated that North Dakota had no paved roads in 1949.  So, parts of the US in 1939 were pretty void of paved roads including my home state of Iowa.  By 1951 almost all major highways in North Dakota had been paved with asphalt and stone macadam and were very wide.  Would guess they were at least 26 ft wide.

 

 

Eh?

 

It is now 2014, and paved roads in this part of North Dakota are still 20 miles apart.

 

 

As for how wide your roads should be, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT. Unless the road is in the fore goround it is a good place to force the perspective with a narrower road. Even in the foreground, do not worry about how wide a road is, but rather what looks good on your layout.

 

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:53 AM

On my layout, everything is foreground as it is only two feet deep, even in corners except for one large yard where it bumps out for a turntable. You can see it at kitforums under layout building "rebels layout so far". Hard to post pics to this forum.

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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 1:21 PM

Oil company maps from the 1950's indicated road surfaces.  Most of US Highway 50 in the west (CA & NV) was surfaced with gravel.

In the late 1970's Solano County California removed tha AC pavement from many miles of lightly traveled roads in the eastern part of the County.  AC roads in the area deteriated  quickly if the didn't have a very substantial expensive to build structural section due to ground conditions and despite continued maintenance efforts were in poor condition.. Gravel road base  provided a better surface to drive on and could be maintaied by running a road grader over it a couple times a year.

 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 9:43 PM

DSchmitt

Oil company maps from the 1950's indicated road surfaces.  Most of US Highway 50 in the west (CA & NV) was surfaced with gravel.

In the late 1970's Solano County California removed tha AC pavement from many miles of lightly traveled roads in the eastern part of the County.  AC roads in the area deteriated  quickly if the didn't have a very substantial expensive to build structural section due to ground conditions and despite continued maintenance efforts were in poor condition.. Gravel road base  provided a better surface to drive on and could be maintaied by running a road grader over it a couple times a year.

 

 

I am a little south of there, didn't relize that those types of roads lasted into my era.

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Posted by DSchmitt on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 12:14 AM

In the area where I live there are many miles of unpaved roads through the forests. .  Most are just barely wide enough for a single car and are are just graded earth for most of their length.  Old public roads dating from the late 1800's have road intersection name signs (many damaged or destroyed) where they intersect "main" paved public roads.  They are old through routes, provide access for people living in the area away from the "main" roads and are shown on road maps.  There are also unpaved Forest Service roads (most now gated) not shown on the road maps (they are shown on Forest Service maps).  In addition there are  private roads (sometimes gravel surfaced) not shown on the maps for access to specific properties from the "main" and old public roads.  Some of the private roads are better maintained than the old public roads.  In some areas the dirt roads are quite wide because they have been improved for logging truck access

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I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 10:38 AM

Guess it is time to sell off my collecton of Walther brick roadway. Now what is your prefered method of doing concrete roadway (will also start a new thread I think).

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:23 PM

I use both basswood and the thin aircraft plywood to represent concrete. The basswood is especially handy, because you can get it in various widths and thicknesses to represent different ways and thicknesses concrete is used. It's also easy to scribe expansion lines into. The plywood is better for areas where you need curves or to fit tight against curved tracks, foundations, etc, and is also pretty easy to cut with scissors, which is handy sometimes.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Trynn_Allen2 on Friday, August 15, 2014 9:39 AM

SBX

Sounds like the roads around here once you get out in the country (Ipswich, Suffolk, UK). I drove a friend of mine from Windsor Locks CT down one single track road with passing spaces to get to a pub and he was - frankly - scared :-)

And he should be.  I had to back up going into Cerne Abbas because an "articulated lorry", that's a semi to everyone else, was making it's way up the cow path that was called a "road" and the only feature that could be applied to that lofty designation of "road" was that at some point it had been paved. 

 

The moral of this story is not that single lane roads are too big for semi's (I'm sorry articulated lorries) or that single lane roads are bad, but that one should never ask the locals for driving instructions.  I am sure that they had a VERY good laugh about sending two Americans into rural nature of Dorchester when the main (nicely paved, if a bit narrow to American standards) two lane road WAS RIGHT THERE. 

 

 

Course having a good map would have helped to.

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Posted by MRL Guy on Thursday, August 21, 2014 12:50 PM
A paved County 2 lane Road in the early 1920's (at least here in SE Wisconsin) was concrete and was 18 feet wide (9' in each direction). As autos and trucks got larger, in the 30's and up to WW2, often a 1 foot wide strip of asphalt was added to each side, and the entire 20 feet was overlaid with asphalt. New roads were 20 feet wide. We are still finding someof these rods as we rebuild them to modern standards. I work for a county highway department. Hope this helps.
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Posted by rrebell on Friday, August 22, 2014 1:16 PM

Now thats the type of real facts that help! What about unpaved country roads in your area, also small paved towns?

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Posted by Trynn_Allen2 on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:04 PM

Finding unpaved roads in Milwaukee county now would be...unlikely.  Finding unpaved roads south of Green Bay is also unlikely.  There used to be a whole slew of them in Grant county (SW_Wisconsin), but Grant Cty Hwy Dept paved them as soon as the money became available.

 

Unpaved roads that are still around are generally between 18 and 20 feet wide with a maybe a one foot grass strip to the ditch.  Ditches are anywhere from 1ft (if they haven't been cleaned) to 4 feet depending on the area and topography.

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, August 28, 2014 12:31 AM

Trynn_Allen2

Finding unpaved roads in Milwaukee county now would be...unlikely.  Finding unpaved roads south of Green Bay is also unlikely.  There used to be a whole slew of them in Grant county (SW_Wisconsin), but Grant Cty Hwy Dept paved them as soon as the money became available.

 

Unpaved roads that are still around are generally between 18 and 20 feet wide with a maybe a one foot grass strip to the ditch.  Ditches are anywhere from 1ft (if they haven't been cleaned) to 4 feet depending on the area and topography.

 

Thanks for the reminder, forgot about the ditches, no rural roads left around here.

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