Advantages of Express Highways to Trucks and Buses

The Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers
March 1941

The advantages of a modern express highway in relation to bus and truck operation may not be too well understood. These highways will, in general, be constructed to higher design standards than is customary on ordinary highways. Outstanding features include the separation of highway and railway grades, thus eliminating all stops not required for fuel, two full lanes of pavement in each direction separated by a medial safety zone, easy grades, sweeping curves, and adequate shoulders. On a highway of this type where stops will be unnecessary except for fuel, it will be possible to obtain a high average speed in comparison with the top speed. The reduced time in covering a given distance between two points can be utilized by many types of truck operations to hold the good will of the shipper and thus retain present business, but more important it will result in the trucker or bus operator obtaining new business in greater volume.

The grade separation feature will permit operators to schedule trips on an economical basis suited to their particular businesses and the characteristics of the motive power being operated and to be certain that the schedules will be met during reasonable weather conditions. This will assure the shipper of “on-time” deliveries, which will be a powerful factor in retaining present and obtaining new business. The uncertainties in traffic, congestion and delays on the present highways makes the guarantee of “on-time” deliveries uncertain, and the trucker usually has to make a liberal allowance when working out schedules. This increases assured delivery time to the worst average driving time in order to “sell” the customer on the dependability of shipping by truck. Therefore, the consistency in operating conditions, freedom from stops, and traffic congestion on a modern express highway will be of estimable benefit to the trucker and bus operator in obtaining and holding business.

An interesting comparison may be made between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a closely paralleling main State route where, between common points, there are 939 road and street intersections, 25 stop lights and 11 railway grade crossings, while on the Turnpike there is none.

The provision of two full lanes in each direction will prove of great benefit in permitting continuous operation at a selected optimum speed inasmuch as it will be unnecessary to wait in line for a favorable opportunity to pass slower moving vehicles and momentum on upgrades will not be lost. This, together with grade separation, will enable close delivery schedules to be worked out.

Express highways undoubtedly will be constructed with easier grades than is customary on ordinary highways and this will effect operating savings in fuel and oil. Lower-powered trucks may be utilized for the same payload or increased payloads may be handled with present motive power as compared with existing highways. In territories where the grade differentials are large, additional savings will be available in the item of wear and tear, such as lessened tire and brake wear, reduction of strain on engine and transmission.

The provision of easy curves, divided roadways, grade separation and moderate grades will permit faster time schedules and quicker deliveries with less accident hazard than is experienced on present-day highways. This will increase dependability of service as well as lower insurance rates.

Excerpts from the paper: “Toll Roads and Truck and Bus Transportation,” by Charles M. Noble, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society, Mich., Jan. 7, 1941.