Things You Can Do by trinidadc


									Things You Can Do
1. Ask your grandparents about road trips they took on the Interstate System when they were your age. Maybe they even have photographs they could show you. 2. Do the same with your parents. 3. Next time you are on an Interstate highway, look at the other vehicles around you. Count how many big trucks you see. Count how many cars and trucks are from other States. 4. If you have an Interstate highway in your city or county, compare it to the other roads you use. What are some of the differences you see that make the Interstates special? 5. Ask your parents if they have a road atlas that contains maps of all the States plus a map of the United States showing the Interstate System. If they do, turn to the Interstate map. Imagine where you would like to go this summer, and plan your trip by the Interstates. You can use the State maps too, because they will show places you would like to see between your home and your vacation. For example, if you live in the East and want to go to Los Angeles, why not stop at the Grand Canyon or enjoy country music at Branson, Missouri? 6. Using the Interstate map from the road atlas, see if you can figure out how to get from an East Coast city such as Boston, Massachusetts, to a West Coast city, such as Los Angeles only on even-numbered Interstates. It can be done, we promise, but now see if you can make the trip only on odd-numbered Interstates. We’ll let you decide if it can be done. 7. Make a list of all the places you go on Interstate highways.

Where It Came From
You ask, ―Did we have roads before the Interstate System?‖ Don’t start with us! It’s annoying! Of course, we had roads. Cars and trucks, too. But before the Interstate System, the main roads from city-to-city were only two lanes wide, one in each direction, and the lanes sometimes weren’t as wide as they should have been. Even though these were the best roads we had, they were not as good as this country needed. Safety was a big problem. For one thing, any business along the road could have a driveway from the road into the parking lot. That meant cars had to slow to turn into the driveway, or other cars had to slow when someone pulled out of the driveway onto the road. This created what is known as a ―conflict‖ that not only slowed traffic but also created a safety hazard. Also, the roadside was dangerous because trees, utility poles, telephone poles, and other objects were right alongside the pavement. If a motorist lost

control of his or her car, it would hit one of these objects and the results were often deadly. Passing slower traffic was another problem. To pass, a motorist had to shift into the next lane and pass the car before getting hit by any cars coming in the opposite direction. (To solve this problem, highway engineers began building three-lane roads, with a lane in the middle for passing. Sound like a good idea? Turned out, not. Cars passing in opposite directions had a bad habit of crashing into each other. It was as if the third lane was the ―chicken‖ lane. This ―solution‖ didn’t last long.) But mainly, if this country was going to build a strong economy and a powerful military, it was going to need better roads. In the 1930s, before the United States was involved in World War II (1941 to 1945), other countries were building modern roads. Germany was a leader. Its ―autobahn‖ highways were a good example of what the United States needed. They had four lanes— two in each direction. The roadside was clear of driveways, so motorists entered or left only at carefully designed spots where the highway was connected to local roads by ramps. The roadside also was clear of all those dangerous obstacles. Every engineer in the country who could afford it went to Germany to see these superhighways and came home thinking, ―We can do better!‖ The government began studying how to get highways like that, only better, for the United States. For inspiration, highway engineers could take a look at the first section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It opened in October 1940, a year before the United States entered World War II. The turnpike, with its four lanes and no speed limits, was an eye opener. It was called a ―dream highway‖ and a ―magic carpet ride‖ because it was so wonderful compared with the regular roads motorists had to drive on before getting to the turnpike. In December 1940, California opened the Arroyo Seco Parkway in Los Angeles, another freeway marvel that gave drivers an idea of the type of road this country needed. (For any Los Angelinos wondering where it is: The Arroyo Seco Parkway was renamed the Pasadena Freeway in 1954.) In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law that told the government’s road agency to select a ―National System of Interstate Highways.‖ (Hey, that’s us! We were called the Public Roads Administration back then, but now we’re the Federal Highway Administration.) We asked the State highway agencies to help us decide which roads should be included in this new highway system. Also, we checked with the Department of Defense because we knew these roads would be a big help whenever the military has to move around the country. We announced the first routes in 1947. The idea was that the State highway agencies would build the Interstates and the Federal Government would help by paying 50 percent. The Federal money would come from the

Federal-aid highway program. Under this program, we had been providing ―Federal-aid funds‖ to the State highway agencies since 1916 to pay half the cost of highway and bridge construction projects. It was a pretty good idea in theory. Congress thought these new roads were so important, the States would use the Federal-aid money on them. There was just one problem: without special Interstate money, many States weren’t all that eager to build their Interstate highways. Some States asked, ―why should we build roads that will help drivers from other States?‖ Others thought they had more important projects to pay for. For example, one State said the Interstates would have to wait because it had lots of dirt roads to pave first. As a result, not much progress was made on the Interstate System. In January 1953, a President took office who understood that the country needed better highways, and couldn’t wait much longer for them. The President was Dwight D. Eisenhower and we’ll tell you why he understood about roads in another article. For now, trust us. He understood. He asked the Governors of the States to help him and called on the U.S. Congress to pass a law that would get the Interstate System built. He asked for a law that would do two key things:
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Build the Interstate System in ten years. Not blow the Federal budget.

Everyone liked the idea of building the Interstate System in ten years. The problem was not blowing the budget part. It was going to cost $27 billion, and that kind of money doesn’t grow on trees. Congress had to figure out how to raise $27 billion without wrecking the budget so that the government was spending more money than was coming in from taxes. (We interrupt this article to point out that the Interstate System ended up costing more than $27 billion, but, of course, no one knew it at the time. To understand how much $27 billion would be today, we will start by thinking about buying a car. Let’s say that a car cost $2,500 in 1956, while a similar car would cost $20,000 in 2006. Since you’re buying basically the same thing, that means $2,500 in 1956 is the same as $20,000 today. Using that same idea, we can say that if the Interstate System was expected to cost $27 billion in 1956, that’s the same as if it were expected to cost $196 billion today. That will give you some idea of why Congress was having such a hard time finding the dough. If you understood this interruption, you may want to consider a career as an economist.) In 1955, Congress tried to find the money, but failed. Trucking organizations, gas companies, tire makers, auto builders, and tourist associations wanted the Interstate System but no one wanted to pay for it. They convinced Congress not to increase taxes on them to pay for the Interstate System, and that killed the deal.

When Congress gave up and went home in July 1955 without passing the President’s Interstate program, these groups were really happy. Over the winter, then they realized what they had done. They had killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. (In case you never heard of this saying from one of Aesop’s fables, we’ll print a version we found on the Internet at the end of this article.) To save pennies, the auto people were costing themselves millions of dollars. That winter, they worked with the roads subcommittees of Congress to find a way to pay for the Interstate System. They agreed that Congress would increase some of the taxes on the products motorists use, such as gasoline (the new tax was 3 cents a gallon), tires, and trucks. When Congress went back to work in 1956, President Eisenhower stressed the importance of getting these Interstate roads built. He told Congress: Legislation to provide a modern, interstate highway system is even more urgent this year than last, for 12 months have now passed in which we have fallen further behind in road construction needed for the personal safety, the general prosperity, the national security of the American people. Congress was ready to go. With everyone in agreement on how to pay for the Interstate System, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 in June. Here are a few of the things it did:
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It said building the Interstate System was ―in the national interest.‖ This was a very important commitment. It changed the name of the network to the ―National System of Interstate and Defense Highways‖ because it was important to our military goals. Instead of paying 50 percent, the Federal Government agreed to pay 90 percent of the cost of building the Interstate System. This change showed how important the Interstate System is to the country. It authorized all the Federal money that would be needed to complete the Interstate System in 13 years. It set up a system for distributing the money so each State could build its Interstate highways while the other States were building their sections. It increased some taxes on highway products, such as gasoline, to pay for the Interstate System. All the taxes would counted toward a ―Highway Trust Fund‖ in the treasury that would be dedicated to building the Interstate System and paying for other Federal-aid road and bridge projects.

Since President Eisenhower had worked so hard to get this legislation through Congress, you probably think he had a big ceremony when he signed it and it became a law. You probably figure he had lots of important Members of Congress surrounding him as he said how important this law is and had a big smile on his face when he signed it and handed out pens to the members.

No such luck. President Eisenhower was in the hospital after having emergency surgery for a stomach ailment that had bothered him for years. He was probably wearing his pajamas at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when his staff plopped a bunch of bills in front of him on June 29, 1956. He signed them without ceremony, without a photo being taken, without a statement. One of them was the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and he signed it on his last day in the hospital. He left the hospital the next day with his wife Mamie. They got into his limousine and were driven on the old two-lane highways to their farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so he could continue to recover from his surgery. It wasn’t the glorious start that maybe President Eisenhower had pictured when he called on the Governors and the Congress to help him get the Interstate program started. But it would have to do. Since then, the length of the Interstate System has been increased, as have the cost and time needed to complete it. However, the clock started ticking on the Interstate Highway Program on June 29, 1956. --That ends ―Where It Came From,‖ but as promised, here’s the Aesop’s fable mentioned in this article. We found it at The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs Aesop A man and his wife had the good fortune to possess a goose which laid a golden egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth. Much wants more and loses all.

The Essential Interstate
Ten Things You Should Know About the Interstate System
We know you’re busy, so we have thought about everything we would like to tell you about the Interstate System and then boiled this huge glob of information down to the following ten Essentials: 1. President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the Interstate System when he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 on June 29, 1956. That was 50 years ago, so we are celebrating the Interstate System’s Golden Anniversary. 2. The official name of the Interstate System is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. It also is called the Eisenhower Interstate System for short. 3. Although President Eisenhower knew the Interstates would be essential to national defense, he supported the Interstate System mainly because of its civilian benefits—including mobility, economy strength, and safety. 4. The Interstate System, which is the safest highway network in the country, has saved thousands of lives and tens of thousands of injuries. 5. Although the Federal Government provided 90 percent of the funds, the Interstate System was built by the States, which own and operate it. 6. East-west Interstates are assigned even numbers with the transcontinental or major routes assigned numbers ending in zero. The north-south routes have odd numbers, with the main routes carrying numbers ending in five. 7. The Interstate System sustains our economy, enhances our international competitiveness, and is integral to the American Way of Life. 8. Everything in your house traveled on the Interstate System at some point in its journey into your life.

9. The Interstate System is an example of what can happen when America makes a commitment to a transformational goal, and sticks to it whether the Republicans or Democrats are in control. 10. The Interstate System has its critics and supporters, but all agree that President Eisenhower was right when he said the Interstate System would ―change the face of America.‖

How Do You Address Environmental Concerns While Building Interstate Road And Bridge Projects?

Roads are a vital part of our daily life. For example, you probably use roads to go to school each day while your parents may use roads to go to work, to the supermarket, and to the shopping mall. Maybe you have taken a family vacation by road. You also use roads even when you don't realize it. Trucks are constantly criss-crossing the country, by day and night, carrying all sorts of products to the stores where you and your family will buy them. If you think about all the ways you use roads, you will see how important they are. At the same time, roads can cause environmental problems. We really became aware of these problems in the 1960s and the 1970s. Until then, most road projects involved improving existing roads—for example, paving a dirt road or widening a road. In the

1950s, we began building the Interstate System across the country. Because these major highways had four or more lanes and required extra land so they could operate safely and be expanded some day, they usually had to be built on a new location. In some cases, this meant going through farms, forests, parks, cities, and other areas that are environmentally or socially sensitive. While many projects were popular, people protested to change, to move, or to stop some Interstates. Controversies erupted across the country, with protesters arguing that the planned highway would damage the environment—kill endangered species, damage wetlands, or destroy farms or parks or forests. In cities, people protested that the highways would destroy their neighborhoods or businesses or encourage people and businesses to move to the suburbs, leaving the city with less tax revenue. As The New York Times put it, "The countryside is leveled and rolled and graded. The road-builders march—imperially, relentlessly, inexorably [means: can’t be stopped]—across stream, meadow and woodland, through parks and nature preserves . . . through private homes, businesses and historic sites." These controversies were hard to settle because often the highway was needed; but finding a route that would not damage the environment or the community was hard. Because of concerns about what highways, dams, and other public works projects were doing to the environment, the Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (called ―NEPA,‖ which is pronounced KNEE-pa). President Richard M. Nixon signed NEPA on January 1, 1970. The law created the Council on Environmental Quality and required the Federal Government to probe deeply into the environmental consequences of its actions. As a result, before a new highway can be built, its social, economic, and environmental impacts must be studied. If the impacts would be harmful, the project must be changed to reduce or eliminate the harm; in other cases, highway projects were abandoned because the impacts were too severe. NEPA was a major turning point for the Interstate highway program. It gave us a framework for studying proposed projects—for changing them where needed and making sure the public has an opportunity to comment. Thanks to NEPA, we have learned a lot about how to build highways, including Interstates, that protect the environment or make it better. We still face controversies because it is sometimes difficult to improve our transportation network without affecting the environment. But overall, the highways being built today are much better suited to the Nation’s needs than would otherwise have been the case. --If you would like more information about highways and the environment, we suggest you check the July/August 2003 issue of Public Roads magazine. Here’s a link:

What's the Big Deal?
You like your computer, don’t you? It’s fun, you can play games on it, watch Web casts, search for information about your favorite singer, order stuff, instant message your friends, and a lot more— even read articles about the Interstate System. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you read this article.) Well, your computer didn’t just appear in your bedroom by magic! Let’s go backwards in time to see how it got there:
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You’re sitting at the computer reading ―What’s the Big Deal?‖ You took the computer out of the box and your mom wanted to help you set it up, but you said, ―I know how to do it, mommmmm!‖ You and your mom drove to the superstore and you told her you knew which one you wanted even though she preferred a different model that was on sale. Your computer emerged from a big truck that backed up to the loading dock of the superstore and was taken out to the salesroom. The big truck left the port in Los Angeles, took I-10 east, and drove on a collection of Interstate highways to the superstore.

See? Without the Interstate System, you’d be sitting at your desk with a connect-the-dots book! Actually, everything in your room and everything in your house was on the Interstate System at some point on its way to your door. It may have been on a ship, a railroad, or a barge; but at some point it was put on a truck and driven in your direction. That includes your clothes, your toothbrush, your bed, your food, your furniture, and, come to think of

it, the house itself—or at least the stuff it’s made out of. Even that connect-the-dots book was on the Interstate System at some point. The Interstate System helps businesses make money. It helps the police catch the bad guys. It helps the military protect us. It helps you get around. And one other thing: the Interstate System is the Greatest Public Works Project in History! (Notice how we capitalize the first letter of each word to show you we meant It?) Nothing even comes close. Go ahead—try to top it. The Pyramids of Egypt? No way. They took hundreds of years to build to keep robbers from defiling the tombs of the pharaohs, but robbers broke in anyway. The Great Wall of China? Hmmm, took hundreds of years to build to keep foreigners out, but they managed to get in. We think not. Hoover Dam? Panama Canal? St. Lawrence Seaway? Great projects, but get real, no comparison! The Interstate program was bigger than all those, rolled into one. In short, it’s the Greatest Public Works Project in History! So it’s a pretty big deal.

Books You Might Enjoy
Preschool Hennessy, B. G., and Taback, Simmons, Road Builders (Puffin Books, 1994). From the back cover: ―Ever wonder how a road is built? Grab your hard hat and find out!‖ Oh, Do You Know Where This Road Will Go? (Mississippi Department of Transportation). The story of a new road and what it means to a community. Written in the rhyming style of Dr. Seuss, this fun book includes games and puzzles. Ages 5-9 Gibbons, Gail, New Road! (A Harper Trophy Book by Harper and Row, 1983). From the back cover: ―It’s time to build a new road. The land has been surveyed and the route planned. Here comes the construction crew.‖

Oxlade, Chris, Bridges (Building Amazing Structures series, Heinemann Educational Books, 2001). Describes the types of bridges and how they are built. Prince, April Jones, Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). The Brooklyn Bridge was so long and unique when it was completed in 1884 that people were afraid it would fall. The showman P. T. Barnum agreed to demonstrate its safety by leading 21 circus elephants, including the world famous 7-ton Jumbo, across the bridge. The read-aloud text tells the story of this amazing bridge.

Ages 9-12 Anderson, Mary Elizabeth, Link Across America: A Story of the Historic Lincoln Highway (Rayve Productions, 1997). The story of the most famous highway the 1910s and 1920s, the road a future President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, traveled with the U.S. Army’s first coast-to-coast convoy. Haldane, Elizabeth, Truck (Machines at Work series by DK Publishing, 2005). From the back cover: ―Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sit in a truck cab high above other drivers? Or to be in control of the toughest vehicle on the road? … Discover how trucks and their drivers do important jobs—and how they have fun!‖ Landau, Elaine, Bridges (A True Book by Children’s Press, a Division of Scholastic, Inc., 2001). Describes the many types of bridges. Landau, Elaine, Tunnels (A True Book by Children’s Press, a Division of Scholastic, Inc., 2000). All about tunnels. Pollard, Michael, Roads and Tunnels (Superstructure Series by Steck-Vaughn, 1996). Describes how roads and tunnels are built. Pollard, Michael, Travel by Road and Rail (Moving Around the World, from several publishers). (Out-of-print but available in libraries and online.) Simon, Seymour, Bridges (a Seemore Readers book from SeaStar Books, 2005). The title says it all! And the book includes four collectible cards, plus stickers. Vanderwarker, Peter, The Big Dig: Reshaping an American City (Little, Brown, and Company, 2001). With pictures and text, The Big Dig takes readers behind the scenes in Boston of one of the most challenging highway/bridge/tunnel projects in Interstate history.

For Young Readers

Gaff, Jackie, Buildings, Bridges & Tunnels (A Random House Tell Me About Book, 1991). Written in a question-and-answer format. (Out-of-print but available in libraries and online.) Shuter, Jane, On the Road: Travel Past and Present (Raintree, 2004). From the back cover: ―Get ready to Travel Through Time. From a Roman chariot to the first cars, you can discover what it was really like to travel in the past.‖

Web Sites You Might Enjoy California Department of Transportation Kids’ Page: Converge for Kids: Where Transportation and the Environment Meet: Delaware Department of Transportation Kids’ page: Florida Department of Transportation Safety for Kids: Iowa Department of Transportation’s For Young Iowans: New Jersey—Biking in NJ: New York State Department of Transportation Kids Corner: North Carolina Kids: South Dakota Department of Transportation Kids’ Page: Tennessee Department of Transportation Kids’ Pages: Texas Department of Transportation Kids’ Page: U.S. Government Kids’ Pages:

A Magazine You Might Enjoy Ages 8-13 Cobblestone: The History Magazine for Young People (Carus Publishing). Every issue contains articles about American history, including transportation history. For information on subscribing or ordering back issues, go to

How to Build an Interstate
Building anything takes several steps. You have to decide you want to build it and what you have to do to build it. You have to get the materials you need and maybe get help from people who know how to do it. Then you can build it. The same is true of the Interstate highways. So let’s go through the steps and see what’s involved. Purpose and Need When officials decide they have a transportation problem they need to solve, such as congestion or safety, they must decide how to meet the need. This is not as easy as it sounds. Will a road solve the problem? If so, what kind of road? Maybe transit would be better. If they decide an Interstate is needed, people may argue about whether a big road would cause problems to the city or the community or the environment it passes through. These are the types of questions officials study before deciding the purpose of the project. Environmental Review

In deciding whether to build an Interstate, officials prepare an ―Environmental Impact Statement‖ (which is known by its initials: EIS) to consider ways of meeting the need for the project. One choice is to build the Interstate. Maybe the current roads could be improved instead. Transit is another choice. Maybe a combination, such as improving the current road and adding transit. There are lots of choices officials have to study to see if there would be a better way to meet the need than building an Interstate highway. The EIS studies all these choices to measure their impacts on air quality; area water; endangered species; forests or parks; historic buildings; safety; wetlands; and, other parts of the environment. The EIS considers how the project will affect churches, schools, libraries, businesses, and other activities near where the project will be built. The EIS also considers how much land—including how many homes or businesses—might have to be purchased to make room for the project. One of the most important parts of the EIS study is getting people involved. Officials hold meetings all through the study to inform people about the project, show maps, discuss choices, and answer questions. The most important reason we get people involved is they help us identify problems we might not see. This helps officials identify the bad side effects the project may have and figure out how to eliminate or reduce them. In the case of a need where a new Interstate highway might be the solution, finishing the EIS can take several years. After the EIS is completed, the Federal Highway Administration signs the ―Record of Decision‖ (which is called the ROD). If the decision is ―yes, the Interstate is the best solution,‖ the ROD explains why we decided to say ―yes‖ and explains where the Interstate will be built. It also lists the steps that will be taken to reduce or eliminate any bad side effects. Design If the ROD okays the new Interstate, officials begin designing it. The design includes every detail about what the road will include. Some of the design details are:
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Exactly where the road will be built, including straight sections and curving sections; How wide the lanes and shoulder will be (the ―shoulder‖ is the paved area next to the highway lanes for emergency parking); How far apart of the lanes going in opposite directions will be and what the area between them, called the median, will include (trees, bushes, grass, wildflowers, a ditch to carry water away when it rains, guard rail, and so on); Whether the pavement will be asphalt or concrete and how thick it will have to be to handle expected traffic, especially the trucks that will use it; What bridges will be provided to carry the Interstate over rivers, roads, railroads, or other features;

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What type of roadside safety barriers—such as guardrail or concrete barriers— will be needed; Where lights will be placed; How much land will be needed for the road, the shoulder, the addition of extra lanes if they are ever needed, and a safe roadside area; How rainwater—which can contain pollution from the drips from vehicles on the road—will be drained off the road to keep it from damaging rivers, streams, or the water we drink; Where interchanges will be built so vehicles can enter and leave the Interstate; How utilities (such as telephone wires, water pipes, and fiber optic cables) will be handled.

These are just a few of the hundreds of details decided during the design stage. Buying Land Once the detailed design is complete, officials purchase the land needed for the Interstate. This involves negotiating with the current owners of the land and the people who live on it or have businesses on it. Often, negotiations go smoothly, with agreement reached on fair payment. The State helps the owner find a new place to live or operate a business. If an agreement isn’t reached, the State goes to court and asks a Judge to approve a takeover of the land for the public highway. Since this doesn’t sound very fair to the property owner, here’s a brief explanation: The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that private property shall not ―be taken for public use, without just compensation.‖ (The people who included this amendment in the Bill of Rights wanted to keep the new government from doing what the British in America had done before the Revolutionary War—take land and goods without paying for it.) State constitutions have a similar requirement. To make sure property owners are paid fairly when their property is taken, officials use ―eminent domain.‖ The word ―eminent‖ means high in rank. ―Domain‖ means ownership or control of the land. Put them together and they mean that the government has the right to decide how land will be used when it is needed for a government purpose. If the owner of the land disagrees or does not want to sell the property, the government goes to court under ―eminent domain‖ and asks to take the land so everyone in the area will benefit from the planned work. That doesn’t mean the property owner is out of luck! Instead, if the Judge approves the government’s eminent domain request, a trial takes place to consider what the State thinks the property is worth and what the property owner thinks. The Judge then decides what the property owner should be paid. While the judge is deciding on a fair price, the State can build the road. Construction

When the land is bought, construction can begin. Virtually all construction is performed by companies called contractors. The State develops the PS&E (that’s what we call it, right down to the ―&,‖ but it stands for "plans, specifications, and estimates") that describes the project in great detail—so there can be no doubt about what the project involves. Each interested contractor submits a bid, which tells the government the amount he or she believes the work will cost (plus profit). The agency picks the contractor who submitted the lowest bid while still being able to meet all the requirements of the contract. (The low bidder will have a very hard time if he wants to cheat to make more profit by promising to use good materials and then substituting cheaper stuff—the State provides inspectors to ensure the contractor uses the material required by the contract.) Once the contractor has been chosen, construction can get underway. It goes in several steps: Survey – A survey crew marks on the ground where the highway will be built. Usually the crew picks short sticks or poles in the ground with little flags on them. Drainage – The drainage pipes and structures are built to carry water and keep it out of the road. Bridges and Structures – Construction on the bridges and structures that will be part of the road begins at this point. Grading – ―Grading‖ means the land is flattened or built up so that the sections of the road will be on the right level when it is completed. The land where the highway will be built is graded with heavy machinery, such as bulldozers. The contractor also does some grading when building the drainage, bridges, and structures. Roadway Base – Material, such as gravel, is laid out on the roadway to provide solid support for the pavement structure. A well-built base helps make sure the road will be able to carry all the traffic that will use it. Roadway Surface – The road is paved, creating the surface vehicles will drive on. Signing and Striping – The last steps are to paint the stripes on the pavement and place signs on the road to let motorists know where the lanes are, what the speed limit is, and other useful information. Inspection – All through construction, inspectors check to be sure the project is being built right. They make sure the steel for bridges is strong enough, that the asphalt or concrete is the right mixture, that the roadway base is prepared properly before the pavement is put on it top of it, and that the contractor follows every step to complete a well-built highway.

The Highway Opens When the work is done, officials hold a ceremony to celebrate the new highway. A ribbon is placed across the road for officials to snip. That signals it’s time for the officials to get out of the way and let the traffic start moving!

The Changing Face of America
As he looked back on his two terms in office, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the Interstate System that, ―More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America.‖ The impacts of the Interstate System remain controversial, but it did, as President Eisenhower predicted, change the face of America—not simply by altering the landscape during construction, but by supporting changes that transformed our society in the second half of the 20th century. The first decade of Interstate construction was the most intense period of road building in history. Half of the Interstate System as then designated was open by the end of 1966, and by the 1970s, enough Interstate roadway was on the ground that the changes President Eisenhower had predicted began to occur. The accompanying map series shows the progression of the Interstate System, decade by decade. As the progression illustrates, the Interstate System was essentially complete by the 1980s. Interstate motorists faced few gaps as they traveled around the country. Even with such a massive, transformational public work, its impacts on the country are hard to separate from the effects of other events swirling through society, sometimes in harmony with the Interstates, and sometimes not. One of the more dramatic changes since the 1950s involves the geographic distribution of our population. Transportation consultant and demographics expert Alan Pisarski described the population shifts in a chapter on ―US Roads‖ in Millennium Book, (International Road Federation, 2001). He explained that: There has been a pronounced “sunbelt shift” to population, with over 90% of national growth in the eighties going to the South and the West, at the expense of the older, more

settled regions of the Midwest and Northeast. The South and West now have more than 56% of the nation’s population. The map series shows that while population remains dense in the Northeast, MidAtlantic, and Middle West, the Sunbelt States experience dramatic gains in population. Pisarski pointed out how these broad changes were accompanied by changes in metropolitan areas:
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Since 1950 metropolitan areas have grown from 56% of national population to 80%. All of the growth in metropolitan areas in the eighties occurred in suburban areas, as central cities actually declined in population. Metropolitan areas were roughly 50% suburban and 50% urban in 1950; now that ratio is closer to two-thirds suburban, and is rising. Despite the emphasis on metropolitan areas, metropolitan areas are losing population to non-metropolitan areas, often to those rural areas on the fringes of metropolitan complexes.

The maps also illustrate another of Pisarski’s observations, namely that, ―More than half of national growth continues to be in three states, California, Texas, and Florida.‖ The Interstate System has helped these States accommodate the population influx. During the signing ceremony on October 15, 1966, for the legislation creating the U.S. Department of Transportation, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, ―In large measure, America’s history is a history of her transportation.‖ The trends illustrated in the map series, and the broader changes in our society during the Interstate decades, were not caused by the Interstates, but the efficiency and flexibility of our transportation network—with the Interstates as the backbone—supported the shifts and helped society absorb such drastic changes while becoming stronger and more cohesive than ever. As President Johnson’s observation suggests, the history of the past 50 years is, in part, a history of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and how it has joined with the broader forces of society to change the face of America.

Why President Dwight D. Eisenhower Understood We Needed the Interstate System
It’s not that other Presidents didn’t understand we need good roads. All the way back to George Washington, our Presidents have understood. In 1785, before he became our first President, George Washington said: The credit, the saving, and convenience of this country all require that our great roads leading from one public place to another should be straightened and established by law . . . To me these things seem indispensably necessary. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served as President longer than anyone (from 1933 to 1945), certainly understood. He liked highways, had built roads when he was Governor of New York, and took a personal interest in the early studies of the Interstate System. He signed the law in 1944 that called for selecting an Interstate System, and he wanted the program ready for construction after World War II so there would be lots of jobs for soldiers when they came home. Vice President Harry S. Truman became President after President Roosevelt died in April 1945, just before the war ended. President Truman definitely understood why roads are important. He loved driving his whole life and once headed a road organization called the National Old Trails Road Association that promoted a road across the country on famous roads of the past. When he was an official in Jackson County, Missouri, he built a network of concrete roads and was a member of the American Road Builders Association. After he became a United States Senator in 1935, he used to drive to and from Washington on the two-lane U.S. 40, which was part of the National Old Trails Road he had once promoted. The problem was that after the war, President Truman couldn’t get to the Interstate System. First, the country had to convert from building products for war to building products for peace. That caused a lot of problems in the economy at first, but soon it

started to boom, and so did families. So many babies were born that this period is known as the start of the Baby Boom. Chances are your parents or grandparents were born during the Baby Boom, which lasted until around 1964. The new families needed someplace to live, so the government concentrated on promoting housing programs. Construction companies that could have built roads were instead needed to build the new houses. And then, in 1950, just as things were calming down and President Truman finally could have done something about the Interstate System, the United States joined the United Nations in a military action in Korea, and so the country had to shift again to wartime. The Interstate System just couldn’t catch a break! That’s where President Eisenhower came in. He had some unique experiences that gave him a special understanding of how important roads are. The first was in 1919, just after the end of World War I. As an Army officer, he had volunteered to go to Europe to help fight the war, but he was turned down. He was needed in the United States to train soldiers to operate a new weapon called a ―tank‖ that the Army wasn’t sure would ever be any use. In fact, he applied so many times to go fight in Europe that his commanding officer told him to cut it out if he knew what was good for him. When the war ended, he figured his Army career was over since he had missed out on the fighting and would never get any promotions. He also missed his wife Mamie and their son Doud Dwight (nickname: Icky, see, who were not allowed to stay with him at Camp Meade in Maryland so they were home in Denver, Colorado. He thought he might resign from the Army, find a job, and try to earn a living to support his family. Before he quit, he heard about the U.S. Army’s Cross-Country Motor Transport Train. The plan was to send a convoy of 80 or so trucks and other military vehicles across the country. The convoy would take the most famous road of the day, the Lincoln Highway, which ran between New York City and San Francisco, California. The Army wanted to know if motor vehicles, which had been used in combat on since 1916, could stand the trip. Also, the convoy would let the American people see the vehicles that had helped win World War I in a time before radio or television brought world events into everyone’s home. It would be a perfect opportunity for the Army to try to convince young people to join the service. Finally, the convoy included a speaker to talk about the importance of good roads at each stop. When Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower (this was a temporary wartime grade—he was normally a Captain) heard about the plan, he and a buddy, Major Sereno Brett, thought it would be fun. They agreed to go along to observe operation of the one tank that was going to transported across country. Because the two friends decided to participate so late, they missed the opening ceremony that took place on July 9, 1919, on the Ellipse,

which is a big patch of ground just south of the White House. They joined the convoy in Frederick, Maryland, later that day in the campground where the convoy rested. The convoy headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where it met the Lincoln Highway and turned west for San Francisco. Despite the fame of the Lincoln Highway, one of the most important people in the convoy was a scout who drove ahead each day to find the road and mark it so the military vehicles wouldn’t get lost. Staying on the Lincoln Highway was only one problem. The major problems were:

The roads—Most of the roads weren’t paved, so they were dusty in dry weather and muddy when it rained. Vehicles slipped off the roads into ditches, were blown off cliffs, and, at one spot in Nevada, got stuck in sand. The soldiers on the convoy experienced every misery of early road travel and then some since they had to drag heavy trucks out of the mud and muck and sand. The bridges—Many bridges were just barely able to carry cars. The heavy military trucks crashed through them. The Army had to strengthen many bridges or build new ones at some locations. In some cases, the best choice was to ―ford‖ rivers (drive through the water where it is low enough to do so). The vehicles—On a trip of more than 3,000 miles, you might expect a few flats. That was the least of the convoy’s troubles. The bad roads were tough on tires, axles, motors, and any thing that could be shaken off as the vehicles rumbled over the bumps in the road. Mechanics, who had been trained to repair horse-drawn wagons, were kept busy learning about a new type of vehicle. The speeches—Every town the convoy reached wanted to welcome the soldiers with a ceremony. Residents from miles around turned out to see the huge military convoy since nothing like it had ever been assembled in the United States. (It was like the circus coming to town.) And then the speeches began, with the Mayor welcoming the convoy, the commander of the convoy thanking the Mayor and citizens, and the convoy’s good roads speaker giving his presentation. The soldiers quickly became real tired of speeches.




Sixty-two days after leaving Washington, the convoy reached San Francisco on September 5, crossed San Francisco Bay on two ferries, then paraded through that city to Lincoln Park. Everyone received a medal—and listened to more speeches before being dismissed. (Today, a cross-country trip on the Interstate System takes about 5 days.) Eisenhower remembered this experience his whole life. In 1967, the former President wrote a book called At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends and one of those stories was about the 1919 convoy. He called the trip ―difficult, tiring, and fun.‖ That was one reason he understood roads.

The second was his experience in Europe. One of his assignments in the 1930s was to map the roads of France for military value. That knowledge was helpful when he was Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He was able to route traffic through France to help supply the soldiers moving toward Germany. Germany had the advantage of the ―autobahn‖ network of four-lane superhighways— probably the best roads in the world. Just as these superhighways helped Germany in the early years of the war, they now helped General Eisenhower and the American, British, and French troops move into the country and win the European war. After the war, General Eisenhower used the autobahn many times while helping to build a peace that would prevent Germany from returning to military adventures. In At Ease, former President Eisenhower said: The old convoy had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways, but Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader ribbons across the land. He added: This was one of the things that I felt deeply about, and I made a personal and absolute decision to see that the nation would benefit by it. Because of his experiences, President Eisenhower fought hard to get Congress to pass the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. For that reason, he is called ―The Father of the Interstate System.‖ To honor him for that ―personal and absolute decision,‖ Congress passed a bill in 1990 that changed the legal name of the Interstate System. It is now called The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. President George H. W. Bush signed the bill into law on October 15, 1990.--If you would like more information about the life and career of Dwight D. Eisenhower, you can visit the White House Web site, which has a short biography: You also may want to visit the Web site of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas: Here’s another biographical Web site on President Eisenhower: For more details about the U.S. Army convoy in 1919, check part one of ―The Man Who Changed America,‖ from the March/April 2003 issue of Public Roads:

―Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of interconnected highways crisscrossing the country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south. Together, the united forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear—United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.‖ President Dwight D. Eisenhower February 22, 1955 ―More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America with straightaways, cloverleaf turns, bridges, and elongated parkways. Its impact on the American economy—the jobs it would produce in manufacturing and construction, the rural areas it would open up—was beyond calculation.‖ Dwight D. Eisenhower Mandate for Change 1953-1956 (1963)

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