Dwight D Eisenhower started the building of the US interstate system as we know it today. He was inspired by Germany and passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956. The interstate makes up 46 876 miles of the US roads and runs through all 50 states. Building this network of roads took a long time and a lot of money.
Things you may not know about the interstate that you travel on daily:
It took 17 years to get the interstate started. The first proposal for the interstate network was presented in 1939. However, it took several years to get the plans and funding to actually start this project. It only became a reality in 1956.
Every state owns a piece of the interstate. Each state is responsible for enforcing traffic laws and maintaining their part of the interstate that they own. This means that they are responsible for fixing potholes, lighting, and making sure the roads are safe.
The interstate signs are trademarked. In 1957, a national design competition was held to determine how the signs would look. Senior traffic engineer, Richard Oliver, won the competition and the signs are based on his design.
Interstates and highways with the same number never run through the same state. This would cause too much confusion. In other words, if Highway 70 runs through New York, then Interstate 70 cannot also run there. This is just a hypothetical example.
The interstate is part of an evacuation plan. Part of the initial reasoning behind building the interstate was to have a way to evacuate the big cities in case of a nuclear attack. Today, it is still a good way to go, but it became so much more than just an evacuation plan.
We hope these interesting facts have entertained you. It is often amazing to read how things we take for granted today came to be. We use the interstate almost every day to get where we need to go, but have you ever wondered when it was built or why? Now you know.