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Highway Essay

1353 words - 5 pages

Where are you at seven-o-clock on a Monday morning? If you are like most of the working populous, you are waking up for work. Skip ahead to eight-o-clock, the car starts and it is off to join the morning commute. During the daily grind, sitting in the car becomes repetitious and thoughts begin to wander. During this wondering, the thought of unlimited speed and unclogged highways overflows into every corner of your brain, but traffic begins to move again and those thoughts dissipate. This anecdote is an example of a cultural value, specifically, the value of freedom; the freedom to drive fast. The problem with this kind of value is it has the possibility to infringe upon another person’s personal value, safety. Many nations therefore have different perspectives on what freedom means to them in regards to roads and driving. A nation’s perspective on the value of freedom directly correlates to the safety of their roads.
The building of Das Autobahn reflects Germany’s national perspective on the value of freedom. The Germans, one could argue, hold driving as a national value. This mindset of this is seen in their setup of highways. The beginnings of the highway network started before WWII. This time-period is when the car makes its début to the mainstream public. Putting great strain on the dilapidated dirt roads, the car forces government to think outside the box and find new ways of moving mass amounts of traffic expected in the future. The government finds a stretch of road built along the Rheine that acts as their vision (Oster 45). This vision of freedom, built along the Rheine, allows all of Germany to interconnect to one another by way of this system of highways. The German government spends no time wasting in red tape, and they begin construction immediately. Government propaganda seals every corner of Germany with the idea of building a national showpiece. Government propaganda is involved so heavily it causes the project to go over budget, but these spending habits allow the nation’s desire to open on schedule a reality (Zeller 62). This highway employs tens of thousands of unemployed, because of the previous World War, that desire to work on the highways. The German populous comes together to build 3000km (1864mi) in three years with 124,483 men (Oster 45). Do not think, however, that this massive building push stunts the German’s quality control. When designing the network of highways designers took special care not to ruin the natural beauty of the landscape. The “conservation of landscape, and even more important than that was the restoration of lost landscapes” is a problem that the Germans deal with when building their highways (Zeller 131-132). The highways to the Germans, then, are more than a mode of mass transportation. The highways to the Germans are a physical symbol of the value of freedom. This freedom is the ability to drive from anywhere in Germany to another safely and quickly, practically unseen in American roads.

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