Linking the Coasts – 20 Century Style


Today in History, June 29: 1956 – President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act, aka the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law. Our interstate highway system was initially justified as an assurance that the military would be able to move quickly across the country in the event our nation was invaded by a foreign power; the initial layout ensured air force bases were linked. Eisenhower had been involved, as a young US Army Lieutenant, in the Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919, which was designed to draw attention to the need for better roadways, again for military purposes. The trip in 1919 took approximately two months during which broken bridges had to be rebuilt, trucks pulled out of the mud by the soldiers on the “Lincoln Highway”. Later, when he commanded the US forces in Europe during WWII, Eisenhower was impressed by the German Autobahn. So when he was elected, getting our interstate highway system was his pet project.

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