Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Interstate Highway System.

Interstate, Highway, Road Sign, Roadsign
Although the state of Alaska has a few highways, some built to interstate standards, they are not labeled as interstate highways.  They have numbers but most Alaskan's only know the highway by its name or where it leads.  I finally discovered the Parks Highway which runs from Fairbanks to Anchorage is Highway 3 and I've been up here many, many years.

The thing about interstates is they provide some of the most direct routes across the country from east to west and north to south.  In the early years of the 20th century, as automobile ownership increased and more roads were built, most highways were named with names such as "Dixie Highway".

This lead the United States government passing an act in 1925 that required these highways to be marked with the now familiar numbered shield.  Furthermore, as the number of cars continued to increase, making the need for more roads apparent,  car companies, tire companies, and others convinced state and federal governments these roads were extremely important.

By 1939, two people from the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads notified Congress of the need for a system of roads that did not charge tolls.  It took till 1944, for the government to pass an act which would create a 40,000 mile network of roads connecting all major cities but it never went anywhere because the government did not provide funding for this.

Jump forward to the 1950's when Eisenhower was elected president. When he was in Germany during World War II, he'd seen how well their network of high speed roads worked so once he'd been elected, he made the creation of nationwide network of high speed roads a priority.

This new series of roads would allow people to cross the country easily but it would also provide the military a way to move from one place to another incase of emergency.  In addition, it would allow people to escape from cities should there be a nuclear attack.  

In 1956, the federal government passed another act to build 41,000 miles of interstate roads across the nation.  It was decided the federal government  would provide funding for 90 percent of the cost while the states only needed to come up with the remaining 10 percent. "The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways."would get rid of lousy roads, traffic jams, and improve travel making it faster.  Furthermore, the highways used on and off ramps rather than intersections to keep traffic flowing and each one had to have at least four lanes available for high speed driving.

At first, people were happy with this vision until the building started and it began interfering with peoples lives.  People who owned property in the way of the roads were displaced and had to move elsewhere and these roads often cut through communities dividing them in half.  This lead to people fighting back.

For instance, protesters in San Francisco managed to halt construction of the double decker highway system along the water front in 1959.  In years following this, other protesters in other cities managed to stop construction so it didn't cut certain places in half but this lead to roads that went nowhere.  By the end of it, 46,000 miles of road had been built.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

No comments:

Post a Comment