1. Pan American
Covering a vast stretch, this is the world’s longest highway, constructed in 1936, also said to be the longest motorable road by the Guinness Book of World Records running through the Northern and Southern parts of America. Because of the long expanse, it crosses through varying climatic zones and an array of different landscapes like deserts, mountains, and jungles.
There are official and unofficial sections of this highway, with the former running from Mexico’s Nuevo Laredo to Argentina’s Buenos Aires. Parts of the unofficial sections go through the Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Alberta Highway 43, and the four terminals in Mexico where it is known by the name of Inter-American Highway.
The highway connects most parts of America, but the Darien Gap is an exception which is stretched for 100 km comprising of a mountainous and forest terrain. Though the stretches of the highway are noted for its beauteous landscapes, the roads in most parts are not in good condition. The Dalton Highway (Alaska) has been a topic of discussion in the first episode of BBC’s, the World’s Most Dangerous Roads. However, the most crucial section is in Costa Rica where the road rises to an elevation of 10,942 feet and called as the Summit of Death.
Approximate Length: 48,000 km
Route: It connects 14 countries including the United States of America, Canada (British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta), Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Columbia, and Guatemala.
2. Highway 1, Australia
Besides ranking second in terms of length, it also happens to be the longest of all national highways, beating the Trans-Siberian and Tans-Canadian. It came into being in the year 1955, developed from the local tracks and roads that existed in the state.
Since it is the sole route for connecting all the states and territories of Australia, barring the Australian Capital Territory, over a million people commute on this highway on a daily basis. It runs through big cities, coastlines, forests (tropical and temperate), swamps, desserts, and scrublands. The team Highway 1 to Hell comprising of four people achieved a record in 2017 of covering the entire belt in a span of 5:13:43 (days, hours, minutes).
Approximate length: 14,500 km
Route: All Australian states and territories (but the Australian Capital Territory)
The third longest highway in the world, this has a federal highway network encompassing the whole of Russia. A portion of the route intersecting the Asian Highway Network has been named as AH6. A part of the highway stretching from the cities of St. Petersburg to Irkutsk has an ancient lineage, built even before the railways came into being, perhaps by the Gulag prison inmates.
Approximate length: 11,000 km
Route: St. Petersburg (Baltic Sea) to Vladivostok (Sea of Japan)
This highway has a transcontinental network of roads maintained by the provincial as well as the federal government. After receiving approval in 1949, its construction, inauguration, and completion happened in 1950, 1961 and 1972 respectively. The highway is distinguishable since route markers (white maple leaf on a green board) are present on all the routes, though this varies to a certain extent in few of the provinces. In 2012, it installed free charging stations for electric vehicles, thus increasing its popularity.
Approximate length: 7,821 km
Route: All ten Canadian provinces (covering the Pacific-Atlantic ocean from west to east)
5. Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network, India
The Golden Quadrilateral or GQ is the world’s fifth longest highway and is also India’s largest highway project. The foundation stone for this endeavor was laid by the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee in 1999, with the entire stretch being completed in the year 2012.
Approximate length: 5,846 km
Route: The four major metropolitan cities (Delhi to the north, Kolkata to the east, Mumbai to the west, Chennai to the south) apart from other cities (Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Cuttack, Surat, Jaipur, Vizag, Pune, Varanasi, Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Agar, Mathura, Dhanbad) that are also a part of this network.
How to get here:
6. China National Highway 010
This is China’s longest national highway, running through Tongjiang and Sanya in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Hainan respectively. Alternately known as the Tongsan Expressway, it initially included the north-south and east-west main routes of China.
Approximate length: 5700 km
Route: Provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shanghai, Guangdong, Zhejiang
7. US Route 20
The sixth largest highway in the world, this is said to be a coast-coast network (denoted through the number “0”), running parallel to the I-90 highway of the United States. Accredited as the country’s official highway in 1926, it is said to be the longest road of the U.S.
Approximate length: 5415 km
Route: Newport to Boston in Oregon and Massachusetts respectively
8. US Route 6
Ranked as the eighth longest highway in the world, it was initially referred to as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, to honor the veterans association of the American Civil War. Route 3 was this highway’s first interstate numbering, being developed in 1922, connecting Provincetown and the border of New York-Connecticut. There have been several modifications in its route since then.
Approximate length: 5148 km
Route: California’s Bishop to Massachusetts’ Provincetown
Ranked ninth in the world’s list of longest highways, this transcontinental freeway is the longest interstate highway of the United States. Constructed in 1956, and completed in 1985 this highway has existing roads like the New York State Thruway, the Massachusetts Turnpike, Indiana Toll Road, and Jane Addams Memorial Tollway. Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, which are included in the list of the longest floating bridges in the world, form a part of this highway. The snow sheds present on it previously were removed in 2014; though plans are on to replace them with the avalanche bridges.
Approximate length: 4,860.93 km
Route: Western terminus: Seattle (in Washington at State Route 519 adjacent to Century Link Field and T Mobile Park); Eastern terminus: Boston (in Massachusetts, at Route 1A, adjacent to Logan International Airport)
Another transcontinental freeway, its construction began in 1956 and was opened in 1986 for traffic. This is the world’s tenth longest highway and ranks second after the I-90 in terms of the interstate highways in the United States. The stretch passing the cities of Rawlins and Laramie in Wyoming are considered to be dangerous as over 2600 accidents have occurred in that part. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is making efforts to repair that part to prevent untoward incidents in the future.
Approximate length: 4,666.44 km
Route: San Francisco (California) to Teaneck (New Jersey), also running through cities like Sacramento, Oakland, Reno, Omaha, Salt Lake City, Toledo, and Des Moines
Apart from the list given above some of the other long highways that deserve mention include the Highway 401 (Canada’s Ontario), the Tarim Desert Highway (China), and Eyre Highway (links West and South Australia, having a length of about 1664 km and said to be the world’s longest straight highway).