Channel 19

Todd Dills

Worst roads redux

| March 18, 2009

This message incoming from owner-operator Zak Hargraves, who I talked to about the problem of roads in America on the occasion of Overdrive‘s 2008 Worst Roads survey and attendant story (out this past January), which begs the quesiton: did we miss it?

“>The worst road in the U.S.?” Hargraves asks. “For sure it is I-78 in New Jersey, mile marker 1 thru 3.

“>Yes, they are ‘working on it’ and yes, it is a ‘construction zone,’ but with no work being done in the last 4 months and the repairs being done covering the entire roadway rather than a lane at a time, this section takes the prize.”

In our past conversations, Hargraves has cited poor design of concrete roadways, with horizontal expansion cuts falling into disrepair and leading to widespread hobbyhorsing when driving on them, as a marked problem in many states. Of I-78, he says, “>This is one. The repair being done consists of slotting the adjacent slabs, drilling and placing rebar ‘stitches,’ leveling the slabs with high pressure concrete and then placing asphalt over the entire repaired base. A decent system if managed and completed within reasonable time and area constraints. The speed limit has been reduced to 50 mph.

“>At 35 mph you can almost stay in your seat, if you are loaded. Empty?… I went thru at 25 mph, flashers clicking away and kept most of my gear in its place.”

All of Hargraves’ recent thoughts about roads, he says, led to an amusing exchange with a toll attendant on the eastbound side of I-78 in Pennsylvania — “>I made my comment about the road and he immediately referred to your article and was surprised that I 78 was not included.”>

As Hargraves says, “>Just not enough pages and type.” Take it under advisement for next year, eh Zak?

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  • Paul

    Great coverage, and this article makes me smile a lot. I haven’t driven I-78 for over 5 years but it’s hellified terrain is still imprinted in my memory. The more things change… :)

  • Todd Dills

    Thanks, Paul. -TD strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.

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Todd Dills

Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to or via phone at 205-907-2481.


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