The interstate system of highways across America turns 65 on Tuesday. Presumably, the nation’s drivers will celebrate by getting stuck in traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway, slowly meandering through the Interstate 64 widening project on the Virginia Peninsula, and rubbernecking past some of the 16,000 or so vehicular accidents that occur daily on all roads in the U.S.
Theoretically, interstates provide a way to get from large city to large city — and state to state — quicker than any other paved road. In fact, when the $33 billion Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 became official, expectations called for the new 41,000-mile network to connect 90% of all cities with a population of 50,000-plus.
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Those interstates, of course, also became the blood vessels of the trucking industry. The government certainly understood the importance, levying a new annual tax on heavy-duty trucks and buses of $1.50 per 1,000 pounds. One report estimated the cost to trucking companies would be an extra $400 per year per truck.
A necessity back then. A bargain in hindsight.
To celebrate the 65 years of interstates in America, FreightWaves photographer Jim Allen picked out a half-dozen of his best interstate beauty shots.
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “This part of I-80 in Wyoming is called the Highway to Heaven. Catch it at the right time and the road does seem to reach into the sky.”
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “Not quite as well known as I-80, but this stretch on I-40 looking west toward Flagstaff, Arizona, will also take your breath away.”
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “Looking down at I-70 from 11,990-foot Loveland Pass on U.S. Highway 6 in Colorado. If you look closely, you can see the Eisenhower Tunnel going through the Rocky Mountains.”
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “Anybody who has ever driven the various interstates through Atlanta will be all too familiar with this message.”
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “The beginning of I-40 in Barstow, California. I went to find the matching sign at the other end in Wilmington, North Carolina, but after an extensive search, no luck. Turns out the sign was regularly stolen, so they just stopped putting the sign up.”
JIM ALLEN’S COMMENT: “I-80 in Brookville, Pennsylvania — not too far away from the Allegheny National Forest.”