Highways Over The Water - US 9 and US 10

There are two highways in the US, US-9 and US-10, which have ferries that traverse waterways that would otherwise be considered gaps in their routes. 

US-9, a prominent U.S. highway, had a peculiar gap in its route until 1964. It used to terminate at Lafayette Street in Cape May, New Jersey, facing the imposing Delaware Bay, making it appear as though the road just ended abruptly. The gap was eventually bridged with the introduction of the Cape May–Lewes Ferry service in 1964. This ferry enabled US-9 to continue its journey, now running through Delaware, from Lewes to Laurel, where it meets US-13.

Image: Corco Highways

US-10 was considered to have a gap in it until 2015, when the Historic SS Badger Ferry was officially codified into the route, traversing Lake Michigan between Ludington, MI and Manitowoc, WI. 

The complexities of US geography are to blame for these gaps, as well as a land gap of US 2. Though, in the original 1925 plan of the US Highway system, only US-2 was planned to have a gap, as connecting the Eastern and Western US-2 would have required going through Canada, or creating a pretty insane detour around the southern part of the Great Lakes.

In 10's case, it was originally proposed to run from Detroit to Chicago and north to Manitowoc, which would have never required a gap as it circumnavigated the southern part of Lake Michigan. In 1926, this route became US-12, and 10 was routed as the road from Ludington-Detroit, picking up again on the other side of Lake Michigan at Manitowoc.

Present day US-10 in all its glory. SS Badger. US-10 historically connected Seattle and Detroit before being largely replaced by I-90 in the west, and US-23/M-10 in Michigan.

While it once linked Seattle and Detroit, US-10 has undergone changes over the years, yielding ground to I-90 in the west and sharing the road with US-23 and M-10 in Michigan. These highways exemplify how transportation innovations and route adjustments can overcome geographical challenges, turning highway gaps into smooth journeys within the ever-evolving network of U.S. roads.

Thanks as always for reading!


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