Sitting in traffic, especially during rush hour, is one of the most frustrating things ever, and this is something that can make people reluctant to travel because they’re going to spend so much time honking their horn. But, there are places in the world that have roads that are literally the road less traveled.
The reasons they are deserted differ, whether they were decommissioned, or because bypasses alienated the route. Sometimes these roads can be quite frightening because of their isolation, which is even worse when there is a rumor involving it being cursed and haunted, other highways stretch for miles and miles, and the chance of seeing someone else is slim, making them the loneliest highways in the world -- although staring out at open space and blue skies is not the worst thing in the world.
And then there are those roads that you cannot even drive on because they have either been destroyed by the elements standing unused for decades or perhaps they were just never completed in the first place due to protests or lack of funds. If travelers want an adventure, then it’s probably worth finding these 20 deserted roads that look as though they have been abandoned forever.
Centralia is a town in Pennsylvania that is well-known for two things; it has become a near-ghost town, and the reason the town’s folks abandoned it is because of a fire in the mine beneath the town which has been burning since 1962. The second reason is it served as the inspiration for the horror film, Silent Hill.
Keeping this town’s strange history in mind, it should probably come as little surprise that the roads here are in a state of disrepair, and according to Dangerous Roads, the Pennsylvania Route 61 that used to bring cars to the town has been destroyed by fire. Now, it has become a tourist attraction, and people who visit leave their mark with graffiti.
Route 66 is one of the most famous decommissioned highways, and the small towns it once connected have all been forgotten. The highway opened in 1926, and according to Mental Floss, it became a tourist destination of sorts with many places to stop off along the way. But by 1985, the road was decommissioned, although 85 percent of it still remains.
The small towns that once relied on this highway to bring traffic to their attractions are mostly ghost towns now, but there are many attractions that have been preserved. Route 66 now appeals to nostalgic tourists.
If you ever find yourself visiting Cape Town in South Africa, you may notice a structure that seems completely out of place, the Foreshore Freeway Bridge. Located in the center of town, is an incomplete section of highway that has been abandoned since 1977, Atlas Obscura reports.
The unfinished bridge has become a monument of sorts, and despite multiple attempts over the years to complete the construction, the publication notes that all have failed, for some reason. Although there is a silver lining for this highway, as it has been used as a filming location for several TV commercials and fashion shoots.
Route 1 in Stafford County is another road that finds its way onto this list, or more particularly the windy section of the road and bridge that once fed traffic into Accokeek Creek. According to WTop, the former road now runs alongside the current highway, but the forgotten concrete is covered in moss and overgrowth, a reminder of the place where Route 1 once crossed over.
The publication notes that the way the bridge had been constructed meant that it could not be widened, and this could have been the reason why it was abandoned.
Some roads have been abandoned because a new highway bypassed them, others were never completed, and then there are those roads that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Take the roads in Hawaii’s Big Island, many of which were destroyed by the lava from the island's Kilauea volcano eruption.
Officials had no option but to close part of the island’s Highway 132, and according to Reuters, the destruction was on a large scale, resulting in blocked roads and many destroyed buildings.
There really is a highway to nowhere, and according to Atlas Obscura, that is Baltimore’s Interstate 170. The road was apparently initially meant to start from the west of Baltimore to near Cove Fort, in Utah, but multiple protests over the route resulted in the project being halted. What’s left is a road that is 1.4 miles long, that goes through many neighborhoods, and the publication notes that it is a “waste of space.”
Although the road does still exist, there has been a partial demolition of a section that was unused.
The United States has many interesting highways that offer us a glimpse into the past, and Highway 93 is one of these places. According to Mashable, the highway spans across 1,457 miles, “from Montana's border with Canada to Wickenburg,” a tiny town in Phoenix. The roads are in a state of disrepair, and soon they will no longer be in use at all because they are being replaced by a new interstate.
The publication notes that the new route, Interstate 11, will be modernized, it will also have multi-lanes, therefore making transportation much faster.
If you want to drive down a road (well actually that’s probably not even possible) and not see anyone else while you do it, then perhaps a visit to the A625 is in order. The A625 was once the main road in Derbyshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, but according to Daily Mail, it was closed to traffic in 1979 because of a slow-moving landslide.
The road is now broken up and quite a fascinating sight. It is used by mountain bikers and cyclists though, who are attracted to the strange disused road.
Some roads have been deserted because the town is no longer relevant, or because new and improved structures were built which bypassed the old location. But in some situations, despite millions being spent, the project was just never able to be completed. This is true of the multi-million euro highway in Spain which lies abandoned.
According to Daily Mail, the MP-203 highway project in Madrid was off to a good start, until the recession hit and workers had no other option than to leave the highway, despite it being 70 percent complete. And so, the toll plazas remained empty and weeds popped up everywhere.
In the 1960s, Sydney had big plans and hoped to create a structure that would run from the city's center to the mountains in the west. According to The Guardian, this unfinished project was called the North Western Expressway, and not everyone welcomed it with open arms. In fact, because of the constant protests surrounding the construction, only a few sections, including the concrete Gladesville Bridge, were built.
ABC notes that the protests took place because government began the compulsory acquisition of homes.
Olimpijka is the name given to the once incomplete motorway in Poland. Construction began ahead of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and according to The Guardian, the plan had been to connect Warsaw to the German and Russian borders. It may have been a grand idea, but it was not a very practical one because the project had to be put on hold due to a lack of funds.
The publication notes that only sections of the road were built, and for years they stayed like this until the project was finally completed in 2010.
Like the unfinished motorway in Cape Town, Manchester, in England, also has something similar. According to Roads, The A57(M) motorway has a mistake, a section on a slip road that has not been completed and is left to just hang awkwardly in the air.
The slip road can be found on the eastbound carriageway to head north, but it was never finished. Rumor has it that the contractors messed up big time and had not realized that they were placing a road that would carry the traffic the wrong way, but the real story is far less interesting, and Roads notes that instead, there was a plan to expand another road (which it stops just before) that left the slip incomplete.
There are many roads and passings across the United States that no longer have a purpose other than to remind us of the past, and it seems the Old Burroughs Road bridge, known as Hushpuckena River Bridge, in Bolivar County, Mississippi, falls into that category. According to Bridge Hunter, this structure is a now-forgotten truss bridge, which lies over the Hushpuckena River. It is no longer in use because it was bypassed in 1990 when a new bridge was built to take its place.
According to Sykesville Online, in the 1960s, the town of Sykesville in Maryland was bypassed because the state re-routed Route 32, which had once run through the town’s Main Street. This move left the town on the other side of the river.
According to Bridge Hunter, the Sykesville Bypass Bridge was built in 1963 and it is “longest aluminum triangular box beam girder bridge in the world” although it is no longer in use. HMDB notes that the bridge was closed to traffic in 2004.
Jacob’s Ladder is one of the most zig-zag routes in the world, but it’s also a particularly beautiful stretch which passes through the Ben Lomond Ranges of Tasmania. According to Dangerous Roads, the road climbs up the mountain, reaching an elevation of 1.570 meters above sea level. And considering the height and the steep pass that an individual is required to travel on, do not expect to see any cars pass by.
Which would be lucky because only someone with experience should get behind the wheel, here, and although it’s beautiful (there is also a lookout point), the publication notes it’s also bumpy and dusty.
According to Abandoned Country, in southern Pennsylvania, there is a stretch of highway known as the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Here, you will find no other cars, because the 13-mile-long forgotten highway has been disused for over 40 years after the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission created a bypass in 1968.
The publication does note that occasionally it is used for military training or engineering tests, but since it closed, the turnpike has mostly just been left to the elements -- there is even grass growing out of the middle of the road.
Apparently, there is a cursed road in New Jersey, and it’s known as the Clinton Road. According to New York Daily News, the quiet stretch of road is located around 55 miles northwest of New York City, and the road is just 10 miles long.
So, what is it about the road that makes it so creepy and fascinating? The publication states that there is not much to see along this road, but there are stories of paranormal activities happening in the area (which attracts those who want to look for evidence), including the story of a mischievous ghost of a boy.
When you think of a highway, you expect it to be well-maintained, right? Well, that’s not necessarily always the case and the BR-319 is a highway in Brazil, which has some treacherous terrain during the rainy season. The 857 km stretch is not a place you want to really find yourself on because according to Dangerous Roads, it is filled with potholes which can leave you with a flat tire, or damaged alignment,
The road was built to open up the Amazon and was created in the 1970s by the Brazilian government's military regime.
This entry is a little different to the others on this list (although the same can be said for Jacob' Ladder) because it has not been completely abandoned. It is, however, a very quiet and lonely drive if you decide to travel on Highway 50.
According to Unusual Places, the route is a major east-west highway, stretching across 3,000 miles, yet despite this, it is known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” The reasons for the feelings of loneliness are in part because of the wide open spaces.
American Road Magazine brought this old road to everyone’s attention; a long forgotten stretch that has bits of grass popping out of it. It is now known as 182nd Ave. and was once a section of the old US 61 (or U.S. Route 61) past Maquoketa, Iowa. According to the publication, the section was bypassed back in 1967.
Maquoketa is a city in Jackson County, with one of the attractions being the opportunity to explore the “unusual rock formations and natural bridges of Maquoketa Caves State Park,” Travel Iowa reports. But perhaps, if you want to see a forgotten stretch of the world, then that’s also reason to visit.
References: Dangerous Roads, Mental Floss, Atlas Obscura, WTop, Reuters, Atlas Obscura, Mashable, Daily Mail, The Guardian, ABC, New York Daily News, Unusual Places, American Road Magazine, Travel Iowa