Crazy-ass freeway exchanges of the world

Jebediah sez, "This is a photo gallery of strange and striking freeway interchange configurations, including ones like the volleyball, the double trumpet, and the turbine. Many are as, or more, visually interesting than the cloverleaf. Learning all the different varieties makes one feel a bit like a birdwatcher when driving on the interstate. 'Oh, there's a classic diamond! And there's a clovermill!'"

What's A 'Spooey'? A Field Guide To Freeway Interchanges, Part 1 (Thanks, Jebediah!)


  1. One of the nicest things about living in Portland, OR, is driving into town on a clear day, going North on the 5. You can see like six mountains.

    Other than that, it’s a frickin’ nightmare and I’d trade the monuments of this civilization any day for some Ankor Wat or Chitzen Itzen action.

  2. Definitely an interesting set of photos (and their snarky commentary on a few is fun). Did have to do some annoying highlighting to get all the text to show up (using FF3).

  3. i’ve often admired the graceful arcs of freeway ramps – especially the arcing curving mazes on of overpasses that sometimes have four or fice levels of bridges – they are quite elegant really. while i might have my issues with the economy that spawned… yada yada… they are quite masterful feats of engineering.

  4. These might look lovely from the air, but if you are new to the area, figuring out which turn to take while going 60 and cutting across 9 lanes is enough to shorten one’s life.

    In my city (Winnipeg), the next big brouhaha is the upgrading of a major intersection that will see 3 left-turn lanes leading to the new Ikea. Three !! It’s already risky enough with two, our painted lines on the street don’t last more than a month, and in winter you gotta guess which ice ruts you should stay in. We’ve got nothing that comes close to a freeway here. If a good stretch of road IS built, there’s lights every 50 feet because service roads don’t exist here.

    Crime is 2nd, it’s the damn freeways/interstates that I fear most when I contemplate a road trip to the USA. Drove to Miami and back in 2006, I’ve never been so scared behind the wheel in my life.

  5. This is looking very nice and beautiful. Definitely an interesting set of photos. And it always resolve the traffic jam problem.

  6. Phoenix, Arizona has a whole bunch of SPUIs. It’s really a fun interchange to use.

  7. Tak, you forgot this one:

    These things can be very scary. I remember one horrible spaghetti mess of highway ramps on the north side of Atlanta, Georgia that I had the pleasure to navigate once. I was on the uppermost strand, frighteningly high above the four other levels of spaghetti bridge, and seemingly miles above the actual ground.

    The strand of road curved, and because it curved it was *banked*. Of course this was rush hour though, so traffic was at a standstill. There I was, stuck for most of an hour, on a *tilted* bit of concrete, hoping that none of the contractors had cut any corners. *shudder*

  8. I always think that the best-designed junctions are actually quite beautiful seen from above. Instead of thinking about the concrete and traffic, just look at the elegant curves and symmetrical angles.

    They remind me of the kind of shapes that crop up a lot in nature, e.g. the shells of microscopic sea creatures called radiolaria. Motorways and many natural structures share the sae need for efficiency (in terms of both length and strength) and smooth lines, so often end up arriving at the same design principles.

  9. @ 22 Beanolini – “Where’s J. G. Ballard when you need him?”

    Actually, they’re talking about these very interchange photos over on the Ballard yahoogroup.

    As for the Swindon magic roundabout – it has five mini-roundabouts, but the Hemel Hempstead one I used to use, though not as fat with so many lanes, had six mini-roundabouts on it at one time (they closed one eventually – I think it ran under a building and was considered unsafe).

  10. Those are absolutely beautiful! Maybe not, as someone else commented, the sprawl that spawned them, but beautiful just the same.

    NOSEHAT21: Atlanta can be crazy (I was once stuck in a 3-hour elevated traffic jam, but fortunately not on a banked portion) but perhaps worse is riding stacked, banked ramps whose cement guards are literally mere feet away from the edges of highrises–such as occur in Asia. (wish I had a picture–we would go speeding along, in a car or a bus, and I could swear we felt like we could lick those highrises as they passed.)

  11. Americans always say subways and public transit are “expensive.” But they never seem to consider the ridiculous infrastructure created for our cars.

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