January 2, 2010

Grades and Ramps


Anytime I see a runaway truck ramp, I wonder. Some seem pretty reasonable, long stretches of gravel with ample speed-bumps. But there are some along I-64 in West Virginia...and along I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix that look absolutely nuts.

Actually, the grades of different roads interest me, in general. I think I've seen an 8%...for sure a 7%. But apparently those are just peanuts compared to what else is out there.

From what I can tell, there isn't an "official" list about the steepest paved grades in the world, but there has been a bit of controversy. For a long time New Zealand claimed to have the steepest with their staggering 35% Baldwin Street in Dunedin.

Photobucket Baldwin Street photo
Photobucket Information from a cyclist

At one point the Kiwis claimed Baldwin Street had a 38% grade, but once more precise calculations came out, it put several American streets in contention for the steepest title...particularly the 37% Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh.

That lasted for a bit, however, nothing has come close to Hawaii's Honokaa-Waipo Road (near Waipo). Although it is brief, it boasts 45%. Traffic is apparently restricted to four-wheel-drive vehicles only.

Here's a list of the steepest American streets:

1. Honokaa-Waipio Road, Hawaii - 45%
2. Canton Avenue, Pittsburgh - 37%
3. 28th Street (between Gaffey and Peck), Los Angeles - 33.3%
4. Eldred Street, Los Angeles - 33%
5. Baxter Street, Los Angeles - 32%
6. Fargo Street, Los Angeles - 32%
7. Maria Avenue, San Diego - 32%
8. Dornbush Street, Pittsburgh - 31.98%

Also, some other strange streets:

Ebenezer Place - found in Wick, Caithness in Scotland. It measures only 6 foot 9 inches in length and only has one address: 1 Ebenezer Place. It became an official street in 1887.

Parliament Street - connects Waterbeer Lane to High Streetand in Exeter, England. It was built during the 14th century. The street, which measures 45 inches at its widest point and less than 25 inches at is narrowest, used to be referred to as Small Lane.

Lombard Street - This San Francisco street in has 8 turns in a 1/4 mile stretch. It was designed this way to minimize the steep 27% grade, which most cars couldn’t climb. With the twists and turns, the grade is only 16%. Lombard Street is one way only and the speed limit is 5 mph.

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Blogger Tony said...

Reminds me of one of my trips to Pittsburgh. The house where I stayed overnight was in some neighborhood with extremely steep streets -- the steepest I've ever been on. I'll have to check with my friend to see if it was anywhere near Canton.

January 3, 2010 at 10:21 AM 
Blogger Erin said...

I have been on Lumbard Street.

January 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM 

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