The Most Practical and Beautiful Highway Interchanges

“There’s a certain beauty in simplicity.”

Sure, you may not immediately think of highway interchanges when you hear that phrase, but it still applies. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ve probably gathered that I’m not a big fan of massive and complex highways and interchanges. Even though these types are arguably necessary in high-traffic circumstances, it’s the more rural and seemingly never-ending highways that are much more fun to travel on. Here, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most practical and breathtaking interchanges that I’d love to travel to someday:

Sir John A. Macdonald Pkwy. & Parkdale Ave., Ottawa

Source: Flickr user Shanta.Image.

Source: Flickr user ShantaImage.

There’s something I really like about trumpet interchanges. Particularly, I like the fact that it’s a much nicer solution than just slapping a stoplight on there and calling it a day. While many of the junctions on the scenic John A. Macdonald Parkway are at-grade and controlled by traffic signals, interestingly, this one isn’t. I’m not complaining, though, because free-flowing interchanges like this one add a significant amount of capacity and save time for travelers. Plus, they’re much more pleasant to navigate.

Semi-directional T interchange near Lausanne, Switzerland

Source: Wikimedia Commons user Rama. Image.

Source: Wikimedia Commons user Rama. Image.

I’m not sure of the exact location of this interchange, but I like it. While some may consider it an eyesore because of the three levels, I think it fits in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. I won’t go into detail about how this type of interchange works, but it basically serves the same function as the trumpet interchange above. Instead of a loop, though, it uses flyover ramps to accommodate higher speeds. Even though the cost is pretty high, it’s probably the best type of basic T-intersection that money can buy.

Parclo on Autobahn 7 in Nesselwang, Germany

Source: Wikimedia commons user Softeis. Image.

Source: Wikimedia commons user Softeis. Image.

Ah, the parclo interchange. Everyone’s favorite variation of the infamous cloverleaf interchange. While the traditional cloverleaf is known to be somewhat dangerous because of weaving, the partial cloverleaf eliminates this problem. This way, travel is safer and there’s still much more capacity than an at-grade intersection. While the interchange pictured above isn’t a parclo in the strictest traditional sense, it basically works the same way, except for the fact that one of the loops is on the other side. Again, I think the surrounding landscape positively contributes to its aesthetics.

Roundabout near Opatovice nad Labem, Czech Republic

Source: Wikimedia Commons user Karelj. Image.

There’s something that really fascinates me about roundabout interchanges. Maybe it’s just the fact that they’re practically nonexistent in North America. Or maybe it’s just because of their practicality. These type of free-flowing highway interchanges are incredibly flexible, considering they can be built with either two or three levels depending on capacity needs. Roundabout interchanges are much better than diamond interchanges in terms of capacity and travel time, considering the general lack of traffic signals. I particularly like this one because it keeps other junctions off of the main interchange, and because it’s interesting to see the road stubs where the arterial will eventually be extended.

So there you have it, the best and most practical interchanges around the world (in my opinion). If there’s any you’d like to add, feel free. And be sure to stay tuned and subscribe for when I write about the worst interchanges in the world next month. As always, be sure to share this post using the links below if you found it insightful or interesting.

Title image source of Wikipedia user KenWalker. Link

  • Greg

    Nice and simple. I am a fan of interchanges for the last 20 years or so. I started drawing my own interchanges. Its a hobby that has exploded.