to celebrate its important place
Lessons from a 1919 cross country journey and the World War II battlefields impressed upon Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower the importance of transportation – it was essential to troop movement, the delivery of supplies and ultimately to military victory.
He brought that appreciation for transportation to a new front in June 1956 when, as the nation’s 34th president, he signed into law a bill that created America’s interstate highway system. The vision was to unite the expansive United States by a network of divided highways that moved people and goods efficiently and safely from coast to coast and from northern border to southern border.
An interstate highway system began.
Today, 50 years later, we have an opportunity to celebrate that vision and marvel at an engineering feat that is without parallel. In the pre-interstate era, a trip from Pocatello to Boise involved an early morning departure, a sack lunch and a long day on a narrow road. Today, the journey is reduced to hours.
Idaho plays an integral part in the interstate highway system and is privileged to participate in a cross-country convoy this summer on I-80 that underscores the connectivity we now enjoy. The procession will begin in San Francisco on June 15 and roll through the country’s midsection, with more than a dozen stops along the way, finally reaching Washington D.C. on June 29, exactly 50 years to the day after President Eisenhower’s historic signing.
Although the commemoration route will not pass through Idaho, we will have a distinct presence at one of the major stops along the route. We plan to have a vehicle join the convoy in Nevada or Utah, roll into Salt Lake City and participate in weekend activities there. We are proud to be part of the system and the celebration.
Our focus isn’t just outward, though. The golden anniversary enables us to reflect on an important part of Idaho history – the development of our interstates. Over the course of two decades, the Idaho Transportation Department engineered and built an impressive part of interstate system – highways that continue to serve Idahoans well into a new century.
We’re still writing Idaho’s transportation history today as we improve and expand the system to meet a rapidly growing economy and population. New technologies and smarter designs will lead to major improvements as we modernize the interstates. The era ahead will be just as challenging as the era past.
As we prepare for that next generation of transportation in Idaho, it is fitting that we reflect on how far we have come.
Over the coming weeks and months watch the Transporter
for articles on the interstate system.