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Transportation National Firsts

US-23 centerline marking maintenance.
Department of Transportation

Transportation National Firsts

1905:  The first automobile transcontinental time record was set by David B. Huss (Detroit) in a Michigan-built Oldsmobile. (Note: The demonstration trip from New York City to Portland, Oregon took 44 days.)

1909:  Nation's first mile of concrete highway built by the Wayne County Road Commission on Woodward Avenue between 6 Mile and 7 Mile roads in Detroit.

1911:  Nation's first painted centerline by the Wayne County Road Commission (River Road near Trenton). (Note: The first state trunkline in the nation to have a centerline was the Marquette to Negaunee Road (now US-41/M 28) in 1917.)

1912:  Nation's first highway materials testing lab was at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

1918:  Nation's first four-way red/yellow/green electric traffic light at the corner of Woodward and Michigan avenues in Detroit. (Note: The light was the invention of Detroit Police Officer William Potts.) 

1919:  Nation's first roadside park on US-2 in Iron County. Nation's first road marking system was created by William Bachman of the Detroit AAA. (Note: It utilized colored bands and numbers on telephone poles alongside the roadways. By 1920, he had banded 2,000 miles of Michigan's roadside utility poles.)

1922:  Nation's first practical highway snowplow was built in Munising.  

1923:  Nation's first "super highway" (Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac) was an eight-lane divided highway with a 40-foot median.

1925:  Nation's first state highway department to use aerial surveys for highways designs.
           Nation's first state highway department to correlate soil characteristics with highway design and construction.

1927:  Nation's first highway department to use yellow centerlines to designate no passing zones.

1929: Nation's first criss cross and paved runways (Ford Airport, Dearborn).
           Nation's first roadside picnic tables (along US-16 (Grand River Avenue) in Ionia).

1935:  Nation's first state operated information center (now called welcome centers) was opened near New Buffalo.

1942:  Nation's first depressed urban expressway (Davison Freeway (M-8) in Highland Park). 

1960:  Nation's first state to complete a border-to-border interstate (I-94 running 205 miles from Detroit to New Buffalo).

1977:  Nation's first bicycle path to be constructed alongside an interstate freeway (the 37-mile-long I-275 path).