Thursday, December 6, 2012


Highway Patrol, Italian Lambo style.
HEY FOLKS: I’m back. Hope all is going well. I’m still here--Been busy the past few months and weeks with other pursuits, one of which is my book I'm almost finished writing, so I figured that I had enough content posted here to keep you busy until another topic comes up on my police radar. For those of you following me on Twitter @SgtAlCastro, I have been posting interesting news articles that are somehow related to my posts, so I suggest you click here to follow so you can get interesting stories related to traffic, transportation, vehicles, the police, the law, and crime. Keep on re-pinning and following me on Pinterest with my unusual and interesting photos, and if you by chance find me using one of your photos to your praise or objection please let me know as I try to make everyone happy to success sometimes failure. Part of the reason for the absence is because only a few of you have any questions to ask me so don’t be shy: use the form below or leave me a message after each post. The following is an interesting question that someone asked me not long ago so here I go:
One of my most favorite roads I've ever driven on, next to the Pacific Coast Highway near the Big Sur in California, is the Merritt Parkway which stretches from north of New York City in Westchester County, into Connecticut. This is a driver's road, which means it can be equally as dangerous if you're not careful, and if you don't have an excellent car in which to drive.
HELLO SERGEANT AL: Without me flipping back and forth on Wiki or Google to go crazy to learn the differences, can you tell us in a nutshell what’s the difference between a highway, expressway, freeway, thruway, parkway, turnpike, causeway, and drive? HEY, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING.
Very much like the FDR Drive in Manhattan (pictured further down below in this post), Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, Illinois (pictured here) is also at some points multilevel and also seems to be perpetually under construction/repair to the dismay of both New Yorkers and Chicagoans, respectively.

HEY, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING: Unless you want to spend an afternoon reading Wikipedia, the basic difference you need to know between all aforementioned roadways is that most likely you will have to pay a toll on a turnpike or a thruway, but not always. Most of the other venues are mostly free, paid by your taxes of some kind with some exceptions. Almost all of them are some kind of public or limited access highway with speeds faster than local roads, and just a very few of them are private roadways owned by something like a corporation, authority, even a sole property owner. Just about all of them have some kind of truck restriction for things such as but not exclusively limited to NO TRUCKS AT ALL, or a slower speed limit for commercial vehicles and buses, or a fee or weight restriction in which an operator of a large vehicle can use the roadway. If the roadway is a major thoroughfare don’t be surprised if it has an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane, and that the HOV lane is restricted but heavily used during certain times of the day. Just about all of them are somehow funded by local, state, and national or federal governments, with a few subsidized additionally by tolls you pay as you go through.

Arguably the most impressive roadway system in the world outside of the ones built in Europe by the Romans is the Eisenhower Interstate System of the United States where it has been integrated into most of North America if not the Western Hemisphere, designed by and for the military to move troops and military equipment across the continent for the defense of the homeland if necessary, but built by civilian authority for mostly day-to-day civilian/interstate commerce use. There are some notable differences between each kind of road however, some of which I have noted here for your interest:
I can only imagine what an angry Roman General Octavian was going through as he was briskly marching his armies back to Rome on one of these cobbled stoned puppies after receiving word of the assassination of Julius Caesar so that he could go back to avenge his mentor's death.  Boy did the Roman Senate who killed Caesar ultimately pay the price for these roads then, and these roads seem to be just as reliable for just about any purpose now.

1. A road or drive seems to be the oldest form of foot and/or vehicle travel dating back to about 10,000 B.C. A drive (i.e. Wacker or FDR) is a roadway that is built with the intention of going from an intended specific point A to a specific point B, as opposed to just a road built to get past though or by something. It seems the pharaoh-ruled ancient Egyptians and other Middle Easterners like the Persians invented the stone paved road, and then the Romans a few thousand years later perfected it to a near science. The Indians (a la Asia) introduced us to brick roads (I frequently wonder about the yellow ones to Oz to help out Dorothy), which happened about 4000 BC, and it was the British around that same time that introduced us to roads made of logs called corduroy. Any major changes to the locale or process of road building are usually done by the military leading up to if not throughout a campaign of warfare, even to this day. It wasn’t until around the mid-16th century that civilian government instead of the military took over most of the responsibility for road building during peacetime, to failure at first as the British learned the hard way about having the civilian government do the job of road building. Once the British perfected the process, it took off like wildfire to the New World and beyond, just like and alongside the Industrial Revolution. This is where the process was later duplicated during the 19th century on railways. ALL turnpikes, causeways, parkways, freeways, drives, highways, and throughways are roads.
You've seen this picture before on my blog, as it is Photoshopped but regardless still compelling here as it is in real life: this is the I-405, the San Diego Freeway in western Los Angeles, California during rush hour. I can testify to this fact as I could be any one of these cars you see here in this picture, as it really does feel this way when you're driving on it. OJ Simpson, his infamous white Ford Bronco, and thus the rest of the world is familiar with it, as this is by far the most traveled and busiest highway in the United States. Recently I wrote about its closure at the Sepulveda Pass in an event which was famously called "Carmageddon."
2. A highway is usually a major road governed by state or provincial jurisdiction and is sometimes but not necessarily always elevated from the level ground from which it is normally paved.
This is the I-495 Long Island Expressway heading westbound toward New York City. It is infamously known as the "L.I.E." or LIE (as in deception) or the Long Island DISTRESSWAY, and is one of the busiest and most traveled roads in the United States.
3. A freeway or expressway is usually a public access highway that mostly has free passage usually for passenger cars, but not always, and less so the case for larger vehicles that are usually subjected to stricter rules and/or fees governing such roads. If you are driving on a throughway or thruway, keep your pocket change handy, as most likely you might have to pay a toll, especially if you have a larger vehicle. Some freeways and expressways are throughways, but not all throughways and expressways are freeways.
I think this is one of the most clever made signs I've seen  in my police career, but unfortunately some truck drivers are still dumb enough or blind not to get it or see it: posted here at the eastbound I-95 Cross Bronx Expressway in the Bronx, New York near Jerome Avenue, which is the most busiest highway on the east coast of the United States, is this sign as it's supposed to warn all truck drivers coming off the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey that their vehicles are not welcomed on parkways. You'd be amazed how many times this sign is disobeyed.
4. A parkway is a limited access roadway or highway that is usually lavishly landscaped with tress and/or shrubbery and depending on its location is adjacent or leads to or from some kind of park. Think more of a high-speed boulevard. A common feature of parkways are low overpasses and narrow lanes that make it difficult for large vehicles to negotiate. Because of this, commercial and/or bus traffic is sometimes partially or permanently restricted, which is what usually makes it a limited access roadway. According to the New York City Department of Transportation the Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York is the world’s first parkway brought to you by the makers of Manhattan’s Central Park. Sometimes a toll is charged for a parkway depending on how its maintenance is funded.
This is the Robert Moses Causeway that leads from the south shore of Long Island at the Southern State Parkway to the western tip of Fire Island where the Captree Boat Basin and Robert Moses State Park, Beach, and Lighthouse are located. The causeway span above is called the Fire Island Inlet Bridge.
5. A causeway usually is a combination of roadway(s) and bridge(s) that stretches over a large tract, sometimes land, usually a body of water or a combination. You can argue that the scenic and iconic Seven Mile Bridge to Key West Florida is a causeway (and a highway and a freeway), but the one that goes to my favorite beach is called the Robert Moses Causeway, which includes the Fire Island Inlet Bridge south on Long Island, New York to Robert Moses and Captree State Parks. It’s where I spent many days of my youth there, summer and winter, especially after I learned how to drive and had my first car. If you go up the hill not far from the house I grew up in the Town of Babylon, New York, you can see the bridge along with almost the entire western south shore of Suffolk County, Long Island. 

The Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, Florida is probably one of the most iconic causeways of the world. It was also once the longest bridge in the world. The span on the left is wider and new, and the span on the right is the old one and once served as railroad tracks during the turn of the last century. It is no longer in use.

6. A turnpike is a straight up toll road in most cases. If I were driving on unfamiliar digs to see a sign that says TURNPIKE AHEAD I would get my toll money ready.  The New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida’s are the most famous ones that come to my mind. All three have tolls. All turnpikes are throughways but not all throughways are turnpikes or freeways.

SO HEY, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, with all this in mind, try to remember this:

ALL turnpikes, causeways, parkways, freeways, drives, expressways, and throughways are roads.

ALL roads are not necessarily ALL turnpikes, causeways, parkways, freeways, drives, expressways, or throughways. Sometimes a road is just a road.

ALL turnpikes, causeways, parkways, freeways, drives, expressways, and throughways are highways and roadways.

ALL highways and roadways are not necessarily ALL turnpikes, causeways, parkways, freeways, drives, expressways, and throughways.

A parkway is usually a roadway, but not always a throughway, freeway, drive, highway, or a turnpike.

Some freeways and expressways are throughways, but not all throughways and expressways are freeways.

All turnpikes are throughways but not all throughways are turnpikes.

And not all turnpikes are freeways and not all freeways are turnpikes.

Do you get it?

If you don’t, that’s OK.

Just make sure you drive carefully regardless of what kind of road you’re on.

And remember this: wherever you are, there you go . . .

And let me know if you have a question you want me to answer here on my blog.

Be safe my friends, always.


Another typical day on the FDR Drive in New York City's Manhattan by the Williamsburg Bridge.

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