U.S. Route 40 Alternate (Keyser's Ridge – Cumberland, Maryland)

U.S. Route 40 Alternate (Keyser's Ridge – Cumberland, Maryland)

Infobox road
alternate_name=Old National Pike

counties=Garrett, Allegany
cities=Grantsville, Frostburg, LaVale, Cumberland

U.S. Route 40 Alternate (nowrap|Alt US 40) is the United States highway designation for a former segment of U.S. Route 40 (US 40) through Garrett and Allegany Counties in Maryland. The highway begins at US 40 near exit 14 on Interstate 68 and runs convert|31.80|mi|km eastward to Cumberland, where it ends at exit 44 on Interstate 68. nowrap|Alt US 40 is maintained by the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA).

The highway is known as Old National Pike to reflect the fact that it follows the original alignment of the National Road. As the route of the historic National Road, there are many historic sites along nowrap|Alt US 40, including the Casselman River bridge in Grantsville and the last remaining National Road toll gate house in Maryland, located in LaVale.

When the National Freeway was built in western Maryland paralleling the old National Road, parts of U.S. Route 40 were bypassed. The part of the bypassed road between Keyser's Ridge and Cumberland became Alt US 40, and other bypassed sections east of Cumberland became Maryland Route 144 and U.S. Route 40 Scenic. Although nowrap|Alt US 40 has diminished in importance from its original status as the National Road due to the construction of Interstate 68, it remains an important route for local traffic and serves as the Main Streets of Grantsville and Frostburg.

Route description

nowrap|Alt US 40 runs from Keyser's Ridge to Cumberland, following the route of the National Road through some of Maryland's most mountainous terrain in Garrett and Allegany counties.

Garrett County

nowrap|Alt US 40 branches from US 40 near exit 14 on Interstate 68 at Keyser's Ridge.cite web|publisher=Maryland State Highway Administration|url=http://www.sha.state.md.us/KeepingCurrent/performTrafficStudies/dataAndStats/hwyLocationRef/2005_hlr_all/co11.pdf|format=PDF|title=Highway Location Reference: Garrett County|accessdate=2007-09-06|year=2005] It runs parallel to Interstate 68 through northern Garrett County as a two-lane road with truck lanes on some uphill sections. The annual average daily traffic (AADT) — that is, the number of cars that use the road per day, averaged over the course of one year — is 1,831 at the western end of Alt US 40. For comparison, the parallel section of Interstate 68 has an AADT of 14,271. The terrain that nowrap|Alt US 40 passes through contains some of the most mountainous terrain in Maryland. The first mountain encountered by the highway east of Keyser's Ridge is Negro Mountain. The road passes over the mountain at an elevation of convert|3075|ft|m, which is the highest point on nowrap|Alt US 40, and was also the highest point along the National Road.cite book|publisher=JHU Press|isbn=0801851556|year=1996|page=131|author=Raitz, Karl; and Thomson, George|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=_XSoga0PSd0C&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=%22National+Road%22+%22highest+point%22&source=web&ots=BTY1ISWWjy&sig=lVhjOFbt_nIvY6jE9L9IAnsdTn0&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result|accessdate=2008-10-11|title=The National Road] East of Negro Mountain, the highway enters Grantsville, where traffic increases, with the AADT increasing to 3,711, the highest traffic density on Alt US 40 in Garrett County. In Grantsville, nowrap|Alt US 40 meets Maryland Route 669 (MD 669), which connects with Pennsylvania Route 669 (PA 669) toward Salisbury, Pennsylvania.cite map|publisher=Google Maps|url=http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&saddr=MD-669%2FSprings+Rd+%4039.698620,+-79.162100&daddr=39.753129,-79.081993&hl=en&geocode=5772450322944864603,39.698620,-79.162100&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=13&sll=39.743362,-79.101219&sspn=0.064149,0.154495&ie=UTF8&ll=39.727653,-79.11375&spn=0.064163,0.154495&z=13|year=2008|accessdate=2008-08-02|title=Overview map of MD 669 and PA 669] A short distance east of this intersection, the highway meets Maryland Route 495, which interchanges with Interstate 68 at exit 19 and continues southward toward Oakland. East of Grantsville, nowrap|Alt US 40 passes over the Casselman River on a steel bridge built in 1933. Downstream from this bridge is the Casselman River Bridge State Park, centered around the stone arch bridge which originally carried the National Road over the Casselman River.

Continuing eastward from Grantsville, nowrap|Alt US 40 intersects U.S. Route 219 in Maryland (US 219) a short distance north of exit 22 of Interstate 68, where US 219 leaves the freeway. East of this intersection, traffic decreases, with an AADT of 1,681, the lowest traffic density along the entire route. The US 219 intersection is at the top of a ridge known as Chestnut Ridge, which continues northward into Pennsylvania as the Laurel Highlands. East of Chestnut Ridge, the highway passes over Meadow Mountain at a height of convert|3022|ft|m, which marks the Eastern Continental Divide in Maryland.cite web|publisher=Maryland Geological Survey|url=http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/fs/fs9.html|title=Fact Sheet: Maryland's Highest Waterfalls and Mountains|accessdate=2008-09-06] In eastern Garrett County, traffic on the route gradually increases to an AADT of 2,232. nowrap|Alt US 40 passes under Maryland Route 546 (MD 546), which runs north from Interstate 68, through Finzel, to the Pennsylvania border. Although nowrap|Alt US 40 does not directly intersect MD 546, it is connected to MD 546 by way of an access road, at Interstate 68 exit 29 designated as MD 546F, and also by way of Maryland Route 946, which intersects nowrap|Alt US 40 near the top of Little Savage Mountain. Savage Mountain consists of two parallel ridges, known as Little Savage Mountain and Big Savage Mountain. the route passes over Big Savage Mountain at an elevation of convert|2991|ft|m, and shortly east of the top of the mountain, it enters Allegany County.

Allegany County

After continuing into Allegany County, nowrap|Alt US 40 descends Savage Mountain into (MD 743), which is an old alignment of US 40 which was bypassed by the roadway which became nowrap|Alt US 40.

East of Eckhart Mines, nowrap|Alt US 40 passes through Clarysville, where it intersects MD 55. Near the MD 55 intersection is a stone arch bridge which was initially built in 1812 and rebuilt in the 1830s, and carried the National Road over Braddock Run, a tributary to Wills Creek. East of Clarysville, the highway passes through a gap carved by Braddock Run between Piney Mountain and Dan's Mountain. Interstate 68, having been built later, is located on the hillside above nowrap|Alt US 40, on the Dan's Mountain side of the gap.cite map|publisher=Google Maps|url=http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=39.637555,-78.867931&spn=0.044748,0.077162&t=p&z=14|title=Terrain map east of Clarysville|year=2008|accessdate=2008-09-13] nowrap|Alt US 40 then descends Red Hill into LaVale. At the bottom of Red Hill is the LaVale toll gate house. Built in 1836, tolls were collected there until the early 1900s, and it is the last original National Road toll gate house standing in Maryland.cite book|title=A Guide to the National Road|author=Raitz, Karl and Thomson, George|publisher=JHU Press|year=1996|isbn=0801851564] In LaVale, the route intersects Maryland Route 53 (MD 53), which serves as a truck bypass for U.S. Route 220 (US 220) to Cresaptown. nowrap|Alt US 40 interchanges with westbound Interstate 68 at exit 39, but eastbound access is only available via MD 53 and Maryland Route 658 (MD 658), which intersects nowrap|Alt US 40 east of the exit 39 interchange. The highway expands to a four-lane road near its intersection with MD 53, then narrows to a two-lane road near its intersection with MD 658. East of the intersection with MD 658, nowrap|Alt US 40 turns northward, passing through LaVale toward the Narrows, bypassing Haystack Mountain to the north, as opposed to Interstate 68, which passes directly over Haystack Mountain, paralleling Braddock Road (MD 49).

Northeast of LaVale, nowrap|Alt US 40 intersects MD 36 at the northern terminus of MD 36. nowrap|Alt US 40 then passes through the Narrows, a gap between Haystack Mountain and Wills Mountain carved by Wills Creek, into Cumberland, where it follows Henderson Avenue and Baltimore Avenue to Exit 44 on Interstate 68, where nowrap|Alt US 40 ends. The roadway continues eastward as Maryland Route 639.


The roadway which became nowrap|Alt US 40 in Garrett and Allegany counties is, with some realignments, the route followed by the National Road through western Maryland. Various historic sites associated with the National Road can be found along nowrap|Alt US 40, including a toll-gate house and mile-marker in LaVale. The toll-gate house in LaVale is the last remaining toll-gate house on the National Road in Maryland. Several historic bridges from the National Road, since bypassed by newer bridges, are still present along the route of nowrap|Alt US 40, including the Casselman River bridge in Grantsville and a bridge in Clarysville.

National Road

The first road built along the route currently followed by nowrap|Alt US 40 was the National Road. The road, the first road funded by the U.S. federal government, was authorized by the United States Congress in 1806, and ran from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. Construction started in 1811, and by 1837 the road reached Vandalia. Many sites from the National Road remain along nowrap|Alt US 40, in particular the LaVale toll gate house, built in 1836. Following the completion of the National Road in 1837, the federal government ceded the road to the states to operate as a toll road, and toll gate houses such as the one in LaVale were built along its path in preparation for the transfer.cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/archive/hafe/lewis/photo02-travel.htm|publisher=National Park Service|year=2004|accessdate=2008-09-06|title=LaVale Toll House] Tolls continued to be collected along the National Road at the LaVale toll house until the late nineteenth century. The LaVale toll house is the first of its kind to be built along the National Road, and it is the last standing toll house along the National Road in Maryland.cite web|publisher=Maryland Historical Trust|title=National Register Listings in Maryland: La Vale Toll Gate House|year=2008|accessdate=2008-09-06|url=http://www.marylandhistoricaltrust.net/nr/NRDetail.aspx?HDID=47&FROM=NRMapAG.html] The LaVale toll house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.


Multiple realignments of the road that is now nowrap|Alt US 40 have occurred since it was originally built as the National Road. Most such realignments are minor, such as to bypass an old bridge, but some have significantly affected the path of the road. One such realignment occurred in 1834, when a new route for the National Road was built through the Cumberland Narrows. The previous route had followed the Braddock Road, a route which is now followed by MD 49.cite book|title=History of Cumberland|year=1878|author=Lowdermilk, William|publisher=Harvard University|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=rU7QCQTpvroC|page=336] The route following Braddock Road passed over Haystack Mountain and was much steeper than the newer route through the Narrows. The route through the Narrows allowed the road to bypass this steep mountain ascent. The stone arch bridge built across Will's Creek for the new alignment remained in service until 1932, when a new bridge which is the present bridge across Will's Creek replaced it. The old bridge was torn down during the construction of the Will's Creek flood control system in the 1950s.cite journal|last=Whetzel |first=Dan |year=2004 |title=The Cumberland Narrows: Portal to the National Road |journal=Mountain Discoveries |volume=3 |issue=1 |pages=12-19 |url=http://www.mountaindiscoveries.com/stories/pdf/ss2004/narrows.pdf |format=PDF|accessdate=2008-09-03 ]

Another realignment of nowrap|Alt US 40 occurred in Eckhart Mines, where in 1969 the road, then designated as US 40, was realigned to the north, bypassing the section of the highway through Eckhart Mines, which has a lower speed limit and sharp curves.cite map|publisher=United States Geological Survey|year=1969|url=http://terraserver-usa.com/map.aspx?t=2&s=14&lon=-78.8952549720388&lat=39.6418870038977&w=600&h=400&opt=0&f=Tahoma,Verdana,Arial&fs=8&fc=ffffff99 |title=4km NW of Frostburg, Maryland|accessdate=2008-09-04] The speed limit on the old alignment is convert|25|mph|km/h, and the new alignment has a speed limit of convert|50|mph|km/h along most of the bypass. The new alignment intersects the old alignment, designated as MD 743, on the east end between MD 638 and MD 55. The west end of the old alignment meets MD 36 just south of its intersection with nowrap|Alt US 40. MD 638, which prior to the realignment ended at US 40, was not truncated, and thus ends at MD 743.

Historic bridges

There are several historic bridges along the National Road that are still present near the current route of nowrap|Alt US 40. Among them are the Casselman River bridge in Grantsville, and the bridge over Braddock Run, a tributary of Wills Creek, in Clarysville. The original National Road bridge over the Casselman River was a stone arch bridge constructed in 1813.cite web|publisher=Maryland Department of Natural Resources|url=http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/casselmanhistory.html|title=Casselman River Bridge State Park History|year=2008|accessdate=2008-08-05] The convert|80|ft|m|adj=on span was built to be the largest bridge of its type in the United States at the time, and during its construction it was believed that the bridge could not stand on its own. The bridge was constructed in this manner in the hopes that the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal would eventually pass under it, though construction on the canal was stopped at Cumberland in 1850.cite web|publisher=National Park Service|title=C & O Canal|year=2007|accessdate=2008-08-05|url=http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc6.htm] When US 40 was first designated in 1925, it crossed the Casselman River on the original stone bridge. In 1933, a new steel bridge was constructed to replace the National Road bridge, and it is this bridge that nowrap|Alt US 40 now follows. The original bridge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964,cite web|url=http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=271&ResourceType=Structure
title=Casselmans Bridge, National Road |accessdate=2008-06-09|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
] and is now part of the Casselman River Bridge State Park.

Another historic bridge stands in Clarysville, near the intersection of nowrap|Alt US 40 and MD 55. This bridge, which crosses Braddock Run, was built in 1812, with later work being done in 1843. The stone arch bridge, located just south of the current alignment of nowrap|Alt US 40, was restored in 1976.

Origins of Alt US 40

Prior to the construction of Interstate 68, US 40 followed the route currently designated as U.S. Route 40 Alternate. The first segment of what would become Interstate 68 was built in |author=Howard Schneider|date=1991-08-03|accessdate=2008-10-11|url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74718453.html?dids=74718453:74718453&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&fmac=&date=Aug+3%2C+1991&author=Howard+Schneider&desc=Western+Md.+Gets+New+Highway%2C+New+Hope|title=Western Maryland Gets New Highway, New Hope]

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