Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Call us geeks, but we love a good on-ramp. Bridges, too. When it comes to building the veins for our four-wheeled blood, mankind has crafted some pretty amazing stuff. Here's ten of our more mind-blowing efforts.

In J.G. Ballard's 1974 novel Concrete Island, a wealthy man becomes stranded (his Jaguar breaks down, natch) in a fenced-off section of highway overpass. He fills his days much as you'd expect –- he retreats into himself, meets people that don't exist, and generally turns into a raving nutbag.

Was the highway to blame for that guy's freak-out? Given that he was driving an old Jag, probably not. (Crusty Brit iron has been known to rot brains.) But if we were set to go crazy, these ten locations are where we would want it to happen. Nothin' says lost-mind lovin' like the elegant work of the civil engineer.

Photo Credit: Ken Ohyama / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Hakozaki Interchange, Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway

As cities go, Tokyo is a big one. Thanks to densely packed buildings and a labyrinthine road system, it can seem impossibly complex at ground level. The Hakozaki junction is just one of the town's many Say What? feats of engineering. And yes, it looks like a giant freaking octopus. (Come to think of it, so does I-5.)

Photo Credit: Ken Ohyama / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai

Much like Tokyo, Shanghai is home to some of the world's weirdest architecture. It also plays host to more circular on-ramps than you can shake a stick at. The Nanpu Bridge, completed in 1991, is barely more than a quarter-mile long, but it sports one of the coolest ramps this side of a shark-jumpin' Fonzie. No, you're not seeing things — that's three decks.

Photo Credit: Qiao Da Ye / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Interstate H-3, O‘ahu

H-3 starts near Pearl Harbor and ends near Marine Corps Base Hawaii, effectively bisecting the southern half of O‘ahu. Planning for the road began in 1960, but construction didn't begin until the late 1980s. When it was completed in 1997, it was derided for being one of the most expensive interstates ever built. ($80 million dollars per mile, for reference.) We don't care. It's gorgeous.

Photo Credit: Seth Ladd / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Volkswagen Automated Garage, Wolfsburg, Germany

It's twenty stories tall, it houses more cars than you can shake a stick at, and it's smarter than most college students. Volkswagen's automated garage is used during new-car deliveries at the firm's Wolfsburg Autostadt, or "City of Cars." (Think of it as half Disney World, half industrial fantasy.) The garage is 80% smaller than a standard one of similar capacity, but we can't bring ourselves to get excited about numbers — we just want to get in a car and ride the dang thing*.


*Before you ask, no, they don't let you do this. Yet.

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Hokko Junction, Hanshin Expressway, Osaka

Yet another piece of Asian beauty masquerading as an ordinary interchange. The Hanshin surrounds the Japanese cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto; if the name sounds familiar, that's probably because an enormous chunk of the allegedly earthquake-proof freeway fell over during the 1995 Kobe 'quake. Thankfully, the Hokko was spared — the drain pipes alone qualify as art.

Photo Credit: Ken Ohyama / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Plano-Dallas Tollway/President George Bush Turnpike, Texas

It's just elegant, isn't it? There isn't much more to say. (Bumper stickers we wish existed: "Everything is Elegant in Texas;" "Matt Hardigree is an Elegant Man;" "Our Highways Make Your Highways Look Like Sissified Lady Parts.")

Photo Credit: Austrini / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

En-Suite Sky Garages, 200 11th Avenue, New York City

Admit it: You've always wanted a condo in the city where you can park within feet of your couch. Car elevator? Got it. Killer view? Got it. Oil stains tracked into the living room of your umpteenth-floor crib? Of course! (Wait, that kind of sucks.) As far as we know, this isn't the first building of its type, but we're pretty sure it's the first one in the United States, and it's definitely the only one in the greatest city in the world. Booyah.

[200eleventh.com]

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Bhumibol Bridge, Bangkok

Thailand is part of Asia, and if you haven't noticed, Asia seems to have a thing for funky, modern roadways. The Bhumibol Bridge in Bangkok is a perfect example — it connects southern Bangkok with the Samut Prakan province, crossing the same river twice. Its two spans are held up by two diamond-shaped pylons, and they meet in the middle at a curving, delicate on-ramp.

Photo Credit: Harald Hopfes / Flickr

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Ramp, Chonqinq, China

Most of the time, the simplest approach is the best choice. This double-decker ramp is relatively new, but it arcs through a parklike green space so gracefully that it looks older than dirt. (In case you were wondering, those taxis are waiting to get gas. China looks like a fun place.)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ten Awesome Feats Of Automotive Infrastructure

Fukushima Gate Tower, Hanshin Expressway, Osaka

The Fukushima Gate Tower in Osaka has a highway running through it. Yes: a highway. The building is sixteen stories tall, and it was there before the freeway that passes through its belly. The highway doesn't make contact with the building; it's held up by external supports. (This is apparently how Japanese engineers settle civil arguments: Don't want to move your building? Eat me. I've got a road to build.)