U.S. Route 40 is an east-west United States highway. As with most routes whose numbers end in a zero, US 40 once traversed the entire United States. It is one of the original 1920s U.S. Highways, and its first designated termini were San Francisco, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. The western end has been truncated several times, and the route currently ends at I-80 just outside of Park City, Utah.
Starting at its western terminus in Utah, US 40 crosses a total of 12 states, including Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. One former and four current state capitals lie along the route. For much of its route, it runs parallel to or concurrently with 3 major Interstate Highways: I-70 from Empire, Colorado, to Washington, Pennsylvania, and again from Hancock to Baltimore, Maryland; I-68 along the Maryland Panhandle; and I-95 from Baltimore to New Castle, Delaware.
The route was built on top of several older highways, most notably the National Road and Victory Highway. The National Road was created in 1806 by an act of Congress to serve as the first federally funded highway construction project. When completed it connected Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois. The Victory Highway was designated as a memorial to World War I veterans and went from Kansas City, Missouri to San Francisco, California. Other important roads that have become part of US 40 include Zane's Trace in Ohio, Braddock Road in Maryland and Pennsylvania, part of the Oregon Trail in Kansas, and the Lincoln Highway (the first road across America) in California.
Entering Colorado to the south of Dinosaur National Monument, US 40 runs east through the small town of Dinosaur along Brontosaurus Boulevard. The route continues a generally easterly course though Moffat and Routt counties, passing through several small communities along the way. It generally follows the course of the Yampa River. US 40 becomes Lincoln Avenue as it runs through historic downtown Steamboat Springs, changing to a more southeasterly course.
US 40 crosses the Continental Divide three times on its trip through Colorado, mostly in the vicinity of Winter Park. Taking a circuitous route through Berthoud Pass and Muddy Pass, it descends the escarpment along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Just to the east of Empire, it merges with Interstate 70 for the first time. US 40 and I-70 will frequently share pavement across the U.S. The route leaves I-70 at exit 244, to the west of Idaho Springs and rejoins it again at between exits 252 and 254 in El Rancho. It parallels I-70, mostly as a frontage road, until the intersection with Colorado State Highway 26 to the south of Golden
Beginning in Golden, US 40 becomes Colfax Avenue, the main east-west thoroughfare through the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area. Along with US 40, the entire route along Colfax Avenue is cosigned as Business Loop 70. The route travels northeast through Golden, then turns due east to travel through Lakewood, Denver, and Aurora. Among the sights to be seen along US 40 is Lake Steam Bath, once the location of a thriving health industry centered on tuberculosis sanatoriums. Also along Colfax Avenue in Denver is the Denver branch of the United States Mint, which produces 50 million coins per day. US 40 rejoins I-70 at exit 288, just to the east of Aurora.
At exit 359 in Limon, US 40 leaves I-70 along Main Street, which it shares with Business Loop 70, US 24, US 287, and SH 71. US 40/US 287 continues to the southeast to the town of Kit Carson. From there, it leaves US 287 and continues east through the towns of Cheyenne Wells and Arapahoe before entering the state of Kansas.
US-40 enters Kansas near the unincorporated community of Weskan. The first sizable town it enters is Sharon Springs, where it intersects K-27. From there it goes northeast to Oakley and follows Eagle Eye Road before a merge with I-70 east of town. The two routes remain merged until Topeka, though the prior alignment of US-40, named Old Highway 40, parallels I-70 for most of the way. From Wilson to Salina, the old alignment of US-40 is signed as K-140.
In Topeka, US-40 leaves I-70 at exit 364B, follows Deer Creek Parkway north, and from there follows 6th Avenue due east out of town. Through Topeka, US-40 closely follows the route of the Oregon Trail. Between Topeka and Lawrence, US-40 crosses to the south of I-70 and enters Lawrence from the west along West 6th Street. In Lawrence, the route is joined by US-59 and jogs north to cross the Kansas River. It follows North 2nd and North 3rd Streets, crosses back under I-70, leaves US-59, and merges with US-24 before leaving town.
US-40 remains merged with US-24 as the two routes travel northeast to the town of Tonganoxie. From there, the merged routes turn due east towards Kansas City, Kansas. In Kansas City, US-73 joins for a triple concurrency between K-7 and Interstate 435, passing around the Kansas Speedway. US-40 follows US-24 along State Avenue before leaving to the southeast along Turner Diagonal. From there, US-40 merges again with I-70 and recrosses the Kansas River over the Lewis and Clark Viaduct as it enters Kansas City, Missouri.
On January 2, 2008, five miles (8 km) of US-40/I-64 in St. Louis was closed eastbound and westbound from I-170 to I-270. It will be closed until December 31, 2008. On January 2, 2009, another five-mile (8 km) section of the freeway will close both ways from I-170 to the Kingshighway exit in the city.
In the state of Illinois, US 40 follows I-70 east from the Poplar Street Bridge and parallels it through most of the state. It is either directly concurrent with, or closely parallels, I-70 through the entire state. Between Pocahontas and Mulberry Grove US 40 passes through several small towns. In Vandalia, Illinois, the former state capitol, it follows Veterans Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard (with US 51) through town. The Old State House in Vandalia marks the western terminus of the National Road, one of the earliest roads upon which US 40 was designated. From Vandalia, the road continues to the northeast passing through several city streets in Effingham. Beyond Effingham, US 40 passes through many small incorporated towns before leaving the state near Marshall
Once leaving Terre Haute, US 40 passes through the small towns of Seelyville, Brazil, Knightsville and Harmony. Between Seelyville and Brazil, the road bypasses several small unincorporated communities which are served by State Road 340, a former alignment of US 40. The road continues to the northeast beyond Harmony, passing many unincorpoated places along the way to Plainfield, a suburb of Indianapolis.
In Plainfield, US 40 is Main Street and passes the Metropolis Outdoor Shopping Mall. Once leaving Plainfield, US 40 becomes Washington Street, where is passes by the northern edge of Indianapolis International Airport. After passing the airport, US 40 is now routed onto Interstate 465 Southbound on the west side of Indianapolis. A sign along the entrance ramp advises motorists "For US 40 East, Follow I-465 South to Exit 46." This route by-passes downtown Indianapolis and instead goes through the southern part of Indianapolis; its nearest point is about south of the city center. (Previously, the highway did not join with I-465 but continued along Washington Street, where it entered Indianapolis proper near Eagle Creek, a tributary of the White River. In downtown Indianapolis, the old highway split into a pair of one-way streets: Washington Street carries westbound traffic and Maryland Street carries eastbound traffic. In Indianapolis, the old highway passes several key landmarks, including White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Eiteljorg Museum, Victory Field, the RCA Dome, and the Indiana Statehouse). Along the eastern edge of Indianapolis, US 40 leaves I-465 at Exit 46 and is once again routed onto Washington Street.
East of Indianapolis, US 40 enters Cumberland where it takes the name National Road. Paralleling I-70 at a distance of about , US 40 continues eastward across Indiana, passing through such communities as Greenfield, Knightstown, Lewisville, Dublin, Mount Auburn, and Cambridge City, where it is known by various local names including Washington Street, Main Street, or National Road.
US 40's last stop in Indiana is the city of Richmond. In Richmond, it passes a statue known as "Madonna of the Trail", one of a series of twelve statues across the U.S. to memorialize women pioneers who made the trek to settle the western U.S. In 1968, a section of US 40 (Main Street) in Richmond was destroyed by a massive gas explosion. This caused a section of Main Street to be closed to automobile traffic, and US 40 was rerouted along North A Street (westbound) and South A Street (eastbound). At the Indiana/Ohio border, US 40 crosses I-70 at exit 156B before entering Ohio.
US 40 enters Ohio just to the south of New Paris. Through most of Ohio, US 40 is known as National Road. The road parallels I-70 eastward towards Dayton. In Vandalia, the road passes to the south of Dayton International Airport and crosses I-75 and the Great Miami River. The road never actually enters Dayton, instead skirting the northern suburbs on the way towards Springfield.
In Springfield, US 40 is split between two one-way streets. North Street carries US 40 West and Columbia Street carries US 40 East. The route then shifts on to East Main Street before leaving town to the east, once again as National Road. I-70 crosses again at unincorporated Harmony. US 40 passes just north of London where it intersects Ohio State Route 56 and US 42 before heading into West Jefferson. In West Jefferson, US 40 is designated along Main Street.
In the Columbus metropolitan area, US 40 enters from the west as Broad Street. Among the sites along US 40 in Columbus are the Ohio Statehouse, the Columbus Museum of Art, and LeVeque Tower, the oldest skyscraper in Columbus. In Bexley, the route follows Main Street, using Drexel Avenue to get between Broad and Main. US 40 continues as Main Street through Reynoldsburg before leaving the Columbus area as National Road yet again.
East of the Columbus metro area, US 40 parallels I-70 at a distance of about , passing through several small towns such as Kirkersville and Hebron. In Zanesville, the road becomes Main Street, and at the center of town US 40 begins a concurrency with US 22 that carries it to Cambridge. US 40 crosses the Muskingum River in Zanesville on the famous Y-Bridge. Routes 22 and 40 enter Cambridge from the southwest along John Glenn Highway, and split in town; US 40 follows Wheeling Avenue. In Old Washington, US 40 joins I-70 at Exit 186. It leaves I-70 at exit 201 near Morristown. The two roads cross paths several times before they both leave Ohio on a pair of bridges across the Ohio River at Bridgeport.
US 40 enters Pennsylvania at West Alexander. It closely parallels I-70 from West Virginia until it reaches Washington where it follows Jefferson Avenue and Maiden Street. In Washington, US 40 passes to the south of Washington & Jefferson College. Following Maiden Street out of town, the road turns southeast toward the town of California. A short limited access highway in California and West Brownsville provides an approach to the Lane Bane Bridge across the Monongahela River. From here, the road continues southeast to Uniontown.
US 40 bypasses Uniontown along a limited access highway that also carries US 119. An old alignment through Uniontown is signed as "Business US 40." Southeast of Uniontown, travellers pass the Fort Necessity National Battlefield. It follows Braddock Road southeast of Uniontown, crossing the Youghiogheny River Lake on a bridge completed in 2006. US 40 leaves Pennsylvania at Addison
East of Cumberland, the old National Pike (formerly US 40) carries the MD 144 designation. The I-68/US 40 roadway passes through a 340 foot (104 m) deep cut in Sideling Hill. Just to the east of the cut is the Sideling Hill Exhibit Center, a museum that highlights Western Maryland geology. At Hancock, where the state of Maryland narrows to less than two miles (3 km) wide, I-68 ends, and US 40 merges onto I-70 at exit 1. The two routes closely follow the course of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Potomac River for several miles before US 40 leaves the Interstate at exit 9. US 40 passes directly through the center of Hagerstown using Washington Avenue (eastbound) and Franklin Street (westbound). Heading southeast out of Hagerstown, US 40 diverges into two separate routes, US 40 and US 40 Alt. US 40 parallels I-70, its longtime travel partner, crossing it at exit 32 near Greenbrier State Park on the Baltimore National Pike alignment. US 40 Alt heads southeast on the Old National Pike alignment through Boonsboro, crossing South Mountain at Turner's Gap. The two routes converge just west of Frederick.
In Frederick, US 40 uses Patrick Street before merging onto the US 15 expressway for a short distance. It leaves US 15 and rejoins I-70 on the outskirts of Frederick. MD 144 once again takes over along the old alignment of US 40.
US 40 leaves I-70 for the final time upon entering the western suburbs of Baltimore, once again as Baltimore National Pike. The route passes through Patapsco Valley State Park north of Ellicott City and enters the Baltimore city limits along Edmondson Avenue. East of Gwynns Falls Park, US 40 becomes Franklin Street, and becomes an expressway (formerly I-170) for a short distance between Pulaski Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Through this area, an alignment called "Truck US 40" diverts larger vehicles onto an alternate route. US 40 passes through the Mount Vernon neighborhood and a few blocks from Baltimore's Washington Monument. After crossing the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83), US 40 follows Orleans Street, and finally becomes the Pulaski Highway as it leaves Baltimore to the northeast.
US 40, for the entire length of Pulaski Highway, closely parallels I-95. Pulaski Highway passes through Gunpowder Falls State Park near Joppa and the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Between Havre de Grace and Perryville it crosses the Susquehanna River on the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge. US 40 leaves Maryland in Elkton, crossing the border into Delaware.
US 40 crosses Delaware for about 15 miles (24 km). Entering the state from Maryland in Glasgow, it continues along the Pulaski Highway. It crosses Delaware Route 1 in the community of Bear before merging with US 13 and the Dupont Highway in State Road. The concurrent routes pass the New Castle Airport and US 40 leaves to join I-295 near Wilmington Manor. US 40, along with I-295, uses the Delaware Memorial Bridge to cross the Delaware River into New Jersey.
US 40 enters New Jersey in Deepwater, New Jersey along with I-295. US 40 briefly joins the New Jersey Turnpike, and exits to the south of the toll booths. The route follows Wiley Road, parallel to the Turnpike, before joining Harding Highway in Carneys Point. US 40 will be Harding Highway through most of South Jersey. Northeast of where US 40 joins it, Harding Highway carries the NJ 48 designation; though this was once part of US 40 as well.
It enters the borough of Woodstown as a concurrency with NJ 45 along West Avenue; it leaves town heading southeast. In Upper Pittsgrove Township, the road changes names to the Pole Tavern-Elmer Road. Passing through Elmer it becomes Chestnut St. and then Elmer-Malaga Road. In Malaga it uses Delsea Drive. The route bypasses the city of Vineland to the northeast, and becomes Cape May Avenue in Hamilton Township, where it runs concurrent with NJ 50. In Mays Landing US 40 uses Main Street.
US 40 merges with US 322 and the Black Horse Pike in McKee City. The two routes enter Atlantic City along Albany Boulevard and pass the Atlantic City Airport. US 40 and US 322 both reach their eastern terminus at the intersection of Albany Boulevard and Ventnor Avenue.
Early in the history of the U.S., the State of Maryland established a network of turnpikes for long-distance travel. Three of these would later serve as part of US 40: the Baltimore and Havre de Grace Turnpike, the Baltimore and Frederick Turnpike, and Bank Road. Colonel Ebenezer Zane (whom Zanesville, Ohio was named for) blazed some of the first trails across the Ohio wilderness in the last years of the 1700s. Zane's Trace, as his road was called, stretched from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Maysville, Ohio. With some minor alignment differences, US 40 closely matches the segment from Wheeling to Zanesville.
Between the cities of Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas, US 40 follows the path of the Oregon Trail. During the nineteenth century, the Oregon Trail served as a major thoroughfare for people emigrating to the Pacific Northwest. Between 1850 and 1852, some 65,000-70,000 people traveled the trail.
Most of the western section of US 40 follows the former route of Victory Highway, a road that once linked Kansas City to San Francisco. The road was named as a memorial to fallen World War I veterans. Other than two sections (one in California and one in Kansas/Colorado) most of the original route of US 40 west of Kansas City used Victory Highway. According to a 1926 guide published about the Victory Highway, it was the fastest route between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, allowing travellers to complete the trip "comfortably and in high gear in from 3 to 4 days. Controversy over the routing of US 40 over the Victory Highway led to a "divided route", with US 40S following the Victory Highway and US 40N taking a more northerly route.
In 1806, Thomas Jefferson signed into law an act of Congress establishing a National Road to connect the waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the Ohio River. The law mentions Baltimore as its eastern terminus; but the route used established Maryland turnpikes east of Cumberland. A new road was constructed from Cumberland to Wheeling, West Virginia, and later extended across the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Segments of the National Road used Braddock's Road and Zane's Trace. Plans to extend the road to Missouri were never completed. The farthest western terminus for the National Road was the Old State House in Vandalia, Illinois.
The National Road was absorbed into the National Old Trails Ocean-to-Ocean highway, a route from New York, New York, to Los Angeles, California in the early twentieth century. During the planning phases of what would become the U.S. Federal Highway System, the National Road was originally to be US 1. This would have disrupted the organized numbering system, however, and the National Road became US 40 in the original 1925 plan for U.S. Routes. To this day, many places still name US 40 "National Road", even where the alignment was moved from the original road. Besides US 40, much of the National Road is paralleled by segments of Interstates 68 and 70.
US 40 was one of the original 1925 U.S. Highways. The route was a cross-country, east-west route, as most routes with a "0" number were defined. In 1926, the road had a total mileage of . Though the eastern terminus was planned for State Road, Delaware, by 1927 it was moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The western terminus was San Francisco via an auto ferry across San Francisco Bay from Berkeley, California (see Berkeley Pier). Upon completion of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, U.S. 40 was re-routed over the bridge, bypassing the ferry pier. Early alignments of the road featured ferries at both ends. To cross the Delaware River, ferries were used, originally from Wilmington, Delaware (1927–1929) and later from New Castle, Delaware (1929–1951). In 1951, the opening of the Delaware Memorial Bridge replaced the ferry service and carried US 40 across the Delaware River.
From 1926-1935 the route split in Manhattan, Kansas, into "40N" and "40S" routes; the two routes met again in Limon, Colorado. The "40S" route continued on to Grand Junction, Colorado. In 1935, the split routes were eliminated. US 40N between Manhattan and Limon and then US 40S from Limon to Grand Junction was replaced by U.S. Route 24, the remainder was renumbered as simply US 40.
New alignments for the road were designated in Maryland in 1948 and in Utah in 1950. California's segment of the highway was decommissioned in 1964. By 1966, the western terminus moved to Reno, Nevada. The road shortened again in 1975, to its current western end at Silver Creek Junction, Utah. In 1998, the California segment was given a sort of rebirth with the designation of Historic Route 40 through that state. Further realignments occurred in Utah where the highway was re-routed for the Jordanelle Reservoir in the mid 1990s, and Kansas City, Kansas, in 1999 to make way for the Kansas Speedway.