Yesterday, I was talking to Judy-Bob and asked whether she was going to take the surface streets to get somewhere. In Los Angeles, the non-freeways were all called surface streets, since the freeways are elevated. During her childhood in rural New England, the term was backroads.
When I grew up (outside Louisville) I thought of a backroad as any of those McAdam (macadam) roads without a paint job (no dividing lines).
Here in Dallas they're just called roads, or streets (I reckon'), unless you're in a rural area, where they're marked as FM-something (Farm-to-Market) or RM-something (Ranch-to-Market).
Deep Thought #57: I wonder if the FMs ever become RMs, or vice-versa? What if there are an equal number of ranches and farms on a given road - which one wins?Other Los Angeles basin terms that became part of my vocabulary include Bott's Dots (aka "raised pavement markers"); La-La Land (a somewhat derogatory term for The Hype That Is Los Angeles); The Orange Curtain (Orange County); The Valley (the San Fernando Valley - as if!! there was any other) and (my favorite, which draws a blank stare here): Sig Alert ("any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours").