Runway Roads

Monday, 19th November 2007 by

When the American Eisenhower interstate system was constructed it was a specific requirement that one in every five of the 46,837 miles of road had to be kept perfectly straight. The idea was that during times of war the roads could be used as emergency runways, negating the need for more airports.

Sadly, urban legend website Snopes debunks this as totally unsubstantiated codswallop.

A similar story is told in the UK, and many believe that straight sections of the M1 Motorway near London were also planned as potential runways. These claims are also easily debunked by the presence of over-bridges and large concrete central reservations, neither of which are very helpful when attempting to land on the road.

The UK version of the myth also extends to most other motorways, some of which have more truth than others. A couple of the motorways were in fact built across and on top of former runways, such as the M8 and the M62, which replaced RAF Burtonwood. Today you can still see one of the former runways intersecting the motorway at 45 degrees1.

But still, being a former runway doesn't qualify these roads as being of any use as a runway today!

In China, we can see a runway-to-road conversion happening, as the original Baiyun International Airport is transformed from airport in the southern (older) imagery to highway in the northern (more up to date) images.

However, it seems China have no plans to use these roads as an emergency runway.

But all is not lost - Singapore's East Coast Parkway is finally what we're looking for: a road that was actually designed to operate as an emergency runway!

1.25 miles of the road near to Changi Airport was constructed in a nice straight line, with no camber and a central reservation made from easily-removable pot plants.

Thanks to Cookie monster, yym_c & others.

  1. This is right beside last month's truck spillage which, if you've not been following the comments, is not zombie chickens but waste probably destined for landfill. ↩︎