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FreightWaves Classics/Pioneers: Edward Hines led roadway construction and beautification

In a recent FreightWaves Classics article, the story of Dr. June McCarroll was recounted. According to a historic marker, “She personally painted the first known stripe in California on Indio Boulevard, then part of U.S. Route 99, during 1917.”

In the same article it was reported that the first documented use of a painted centerline was recorded on Trenton’s River Road in Wayne County, Michigan in 1911. Edward N. Hines, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Roads, was the first person who insisted that there should be a solid line separating lanes of traffic on the county’s roads. Apparently he developed his idea after seeing a leaky milk wagon leave a white trail along a road.

Regardless of exactly who was first, both McCarroll and Hines developed their ideas independently. Since then, this simple idea has been recognized as one of the most important single traffic safety devices in the history of roadway transportation. 

In today’s FreightWaves Classics article, Hines will be profiled.

Edward N. Hines. (Photo: Michigan Department of Transportation)
Edward N. Hines. (Photo: Michigan Department of Transportation)

Bicycling grows to leadership in early roads

Hines was born in 1870, and became an avid bicyclist in his teens. At the age of 20 he founded a Good Roads organization in Michigan that advocated for the development of county roads. His work led to the passage of the 1893 County Road Law, and an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution in 1894. 

During this period, Hines was president of the Detroit Wheelmen cycling club, chief counsel of the League of American Wheelmen’s Michigan Division, and vice president of the League of American Wheelmen. These bicycling organizations were the first proponents of better roads and were the forerunners of the good roads organizations that followed.

The Wayne County Board of Roads was created in 1906; Hines was appointed to the board along with Henry Ford and Cassius R. Benton. Hines became its chairman and remained in that position for the next 32 years.

The first concrete roadway 

Today, Hines is recognized as one of the early innovators in roadway development. 

This image appeared in a 1914 issue of Motor Age.
This image appeared in a 1914 issue of Motor Age.

In 1909, Hines and Horatio Earle were responsible for the construction of the first full mile of concrete road pavement in the world. That roadway was Detroit’s Woodward Avenue between Six Mile Road and Seven Mile Road.

Due to Hines leadership, all of Wayne County’s major roads had center lines painted on them by 1922. Road markings and striping continue to serve a very important role in daily traffic flows and road designations. They promote navigational ease and efficiency, as well as helping to enforce road safety and situational awareness among many drivers and pedestrians.

Beautifying roadways and creating parks

Hines was one of the founders of the Detroit Automobile Club in 1916. He was also a national leader of the concept of landscaping highway rights-of-way. He advocated on behalf of beautifying roadways by eliminating power lines and billboards along their routes. 

Another of Hines’ innovations was snow removal from public roads. Today, that practice is ubiquitous in those locations that experience snow during the winter months.

A plaque commemorating the Middle Rouge Parkway, which was renamed for Edward N. Hines. (Photo:
A plaque commemorating the Middle Rouge Parkway, which was renamed for Edward N. Hines. (Photo:

Hines was also among the leaders of the 1920s movement to acquire land along the Huron River and the Rouge River in order to build parks. The Middle Rouge Parkway was renamed the Edward N. Hines Parkway in 1937, in his honor.

Other honors Hines received include the George S. Bartlett Award for outstanding contribution to highway progress, which Hines was given in 1935. In 1972 Hines was inducted into the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor. In addition, Hines Park in Dearborn Heights was named for Hines.

Hines Park was named for Edward N. Hines. (Photo:
Hines Park was named for Edward N. Hines. (Photo: