ThrowBack Thursday: America’s Interstate System

Tomorrow is the 4th of July – Happy Independence Day, Trucking Nation! As long as the weather cooperates here on the east coast, I see a lazy day at the lake with the best BBQ ever in most people’s future (today I’m psychic). To kick off what is going to be an awesome weekend (rain or shine, I’m optimistic) ExpressTruckTax is back with a ThrowBack Thursday to America’s Interstate System. You drive these roads everyday, from sun up to sun down, under starry skies, and in every weather condition imaginable. Driving from coast to coast and everywhere in between, you have seen it all.

Today we are going to take a look at what went into building these amazing paved passageways, so buckle up & hang on, were going back in time…

If you look out your viewing window, you will see President Dwight Eisenhower signing the Federal-Aid Highway act of 1956. The date is June 29, and this is the birth of our highway system. The bill President Eisenhower is signing will create a 41,000 mile “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” that is designed to eliminate unsafe roads, inefficient routes, traffic jams and all other things that got in the way of safe transcontinental travel.

President Eisenhower signing the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.  photo credit:

$26 Billion was allocated to pay for the interstate system. Under the terms of the law, our federal government would pay 90% of the cost of expressway construction. Where did they get the money you ask? Well…the money came from an increased gas tax. In 1956 the gasoline tax is only 2 cents, and they will increase that to 3 cents to provide funding for construction.

Interstate Construction 1960. photo credit:

Two states claim the title of 1st Interstate Highway: Missouri and Kansas. Missouri claims the title because they say the first three contracts under the new program were signed in Missouri during the month of August.

Kansas claims the title saying it was the first state where the actual paving started after the act was signed. Some construction had already started before the act was signed, but legit paving started September 26, 1956. Kansas is so sure they are #1, they went ahead and marked its portion of I-70 as the first project in the US completed under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.

I-70 Ground Breaking – 1956. photo credit:

It will take 35 years to complete the original portion. The Interstate Highway system has since been extended, and as of 2012, it had a total length of 47,714 miles. It is the world’s second largest interstate system after China’s. The estimated cost of construction is at $425 Billion (in 2006 dollars).

Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of I-94 in Waukesha, Wisconsin 1958. photo credit:

A lot of hard, back-breaking work went into building the stretch of interstate you travel everyday. It might not be as appreciated as it was when construction began, but the United States Interstate System is an engineering marvel that represents the determination and strength of out great country. ExpressTruckTax salutes our great interstate system and all the men and women of our even greater Trucking Nation. Have a memorable 4th of July, and stay safe out there.


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