Urban Road Networks
Mixing oil for a paved road
in Wabeno, Forest County, in 1959.
Courtesy of the Wisconsin
Department of Transportation,
Bureau of Environment,
District 7 file.
Early urban streets often followed existing trails and paths. Once cities were platted, urban road networks were developed to follow the strict grid pattern imposed by the Township-Range-Section system utilized by most communities. Suburban development and the Garden City movement of the early twentieth century promoted curvilinear roads that followed the topography and had a romantic appeal.
As the automobile gained popularity, it created traffic problems. Increased congestion resulted in urban streets being ranked by traffic volume. Arterial roads with high traffic volumes became highway feeders and their maintenance and improvements were subsidized by the state or county. In addition to alleviating some traffic problems, this ensured that automobile travelers would find consistent road conditions in urban and rural areas while traveling along County and State Trunk Highways.