The A 8 is a significant East-West transit route. Its construction began in March 1934 during Nazi rule as a, the section between Karlsruhe and Salzburg having been completed by the time road works were discontinued in World War II. Although most parts have been modernized and extended since, significant sections remain in their original configuration from the 1930s - 2+2 lanes, no emergency lanes, steep hills and tight curves. In combination with today's traffic this makes the A 8 one of the most crowded and dangerous autobahns in Germany. Especially in the wintertime the slopes of the Black Forest, the Swabian Alb near Aichelberg, as well as the Irschenberg become bottlenecks when heavy trucks crawl uphill.
Modern sections with 3+3 lanes and more are f.e. (2016): Pforzheim-South - Stuttgart - Mühlhausen, AK Ulm/Elchingen - Augsburg - Munich-Eschenried, and AK Munich-South - AD Inntal. Other sections in Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Munich have 2+2 in modern standard.
Old standard or not completed sections are (2016): near Merzig (under construction), AK Neunkirchen - Zweibrücken (no emergency lanes yet), Karlsbad - Pforzheim-West ( under construction), Enz crossing near Pforzheim (modernizing planned), Alb crossing Mühlhausen - Hohenstadt (planned), Hohenstadt - Ulm-West (under construction), Ulm-West - AK Ulm/Elchingen (planned) and AD Inntal - Salzburg (planned). At least, complete section Karlsruhe - Salzburg will be extended to 3 + 3 lanes.
Plans for the section between Pirmasens and Karlsruhe were abandoned in the 1980s. Instead of this section B10 Pirmasens - Landau was expanded. Landau - Karlsruhe was built as a part of A65 in the 90s. In Munich there is also a gap: section from Augsburg ends in Munich-Obermenzing, section from Salzburg ends in Munich-Haidhausen. Transit traffic has to use A99 north around Munich or A99 west, "Mittlerer Ring" and A 995 (shorter but not complete autobahn)
Along the route
Near Merzig was a section with only one lane for each direction, but it is under construction and will be extended to 2+2.
Near Heusweiler a wire netting was built as a faraday cage to protect verhicle electronic from radiation of Heusweiler radio transmitter. The transmitter has been deactivated but has yet to be removed - together with the wire netting.
Pirmasens-Winzeln is one of only four "left slip roads" in German autobahn network: coming from Zweibrücken, left lane is exit to Winzeln and right lane stays A 8; access from Winzeln leads to left lane. Towards Zweibrücken exit and access are as usual. A 8 and A 62 should meet here in an interchange. After A 8 section Pirmasens -Karlsruhe had been cancelled the "interchange" was later used for Winzeln slip road.
In Gruibingen (section Stuttgart - Ulm) motorway service Gruibingen was built according to feng shui philosophy.
At Drakensteiner Hang between Mühlhausen and Hohenstadt (section Stuttgart - Ulm) A 8 is divided into separate northbound and southbound routes on either side of the peak.
Near Adelsried (section Ulm - Munich) is Autobahnkirche ("motorway church") Maria, Schutz der Reisenden ("Mary, patron saint of travellers"). It was built 1956 as first of meanwhile 42 in Germany.
For extension of section Ulm/Elchingen - Augsburg - Munich a new kind of finanzial funding was used, an operator model: consortiums of constructing companies funded semselves their work and get for it lorry road charges for 30 years. They are also responsible for maintenance during this period.
For transit traffic around Munich road marks signalize to use orbital motorway A99 north/east at Eschenried and Munich-South interchanges. But those who are familiar with place often use A 99 west - Mittlerer Ring - A 995 as a shorter and faster route. However this route leads through Munich and therefore authorities want to keep transit traffic out of town.
Austria demands toll for its autobahns, so many drivers who don't want to pay for the short section border - Salzburg use slip roads Bad Reichenhall or Schwarzbach and country roads which sometimes causes traffic jams.