The A 8 is a significant East-West transit route. Its construction began in March 1934 during Nazi rule as a Reichsautobahn, the section between Karlsruhe and Salzburg having been completed when road works were discontinued in World War II. Although parts have been modernized and extended since, significant sections remained in their original condition from the 1930s - 2+2 lanes, no emergency or acceleration 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.
As of 2012[update], a gap remains between Pirmasens and Karlsruhe with no immediate plans to close the gap. Additionally, there are plans to re-route a sub-standard section between Aichelberg and Hohenstadt. It is proposed that tolls be charged on this tunnel-oriented replacement stretch (presumably to cover the costs of the project), which would make it the first tolled section of a German autobahn.