The Negative State
William Easterly identifies the concept of the negative highway, inconvenient connections between Interstate highways seemingly created for the sole purpose of enticing people to shop at local businesses. His “favorite” is Breezewood, PA:
I used to drive often from Washington DC to Ohio and would pass fuming through Breezewood PA, victim of a hijacking. Where there should have been a simple interchange of Interstates 70 and 76, the locals had conspired with the road builders to dump you on a short stretch of a stoplight-heavy road, PA State Highway 30, in between.
This generated a lot of jobs for the locals, of course, in all the motels, gas stations, and fast food places clustered along this road.
He cites other examples of the phenomenon, and notes that the practice has a long history but that they’re relatively rare in the United States and other modern societies but quite plentiful in the developing world.
My “favorite” example of this is the state of Delaware which, as best as I have been able to determine, exists solely to collect tolls from those trying to traverse the Eastern Seaboard along I-95 and as a place to house corporations for lawsuit purposes.