As part of its Celebrate the Interstate 50th Anniversary campaign, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials will sponsor National
As part of its Celebrate the Interstate 50th Anniversary campaign, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials will sponsor National History Day 2006-2007, a year-long educational event targeting more than 700,000 students and 40,000 educators in grades six through 12 in 47 states. The 26-year old program engages students in historical research, primary source analysis, and competition through documentaries, performances, displays and papers.
Among the greatest U.S. public works achievements, AASHTO officials affirm, the Interstate Highway System reflects the theme of National History Day 2006-2007, Triumph and Tragedy in History. AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley observes, An entire generation of U.S. citizens take the existence of the Interstate system for granted, not knowing the challenges faced by many 20th century leaders who envisioned a cross-country network of highways that united the states. By reaching out to students and educating them about what a monumental task this was, we also hope to teach them about the impacts on our lives and how they can be a part of shaping the system’s future.
AASHTO’s contribution to National History Day 2006-2007 is being developed by researchers at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kan., Eisenhower’s birthplace. Abilene also will be a stop from June 21-23 during AASHTO’s Celebrate the Interstate cross-country convoy, which will trace the route traversed by Eisenhower in 1919, when as a lieutenant colonel in the Army he helped lead a procession of 81 military vehicles that covered 3,251 miles between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Setting a record pace of about 6 mph and 58 miles a day over 62 days of heat, breakdowns, mud, rough roads, and bridgeless river-crossings Û where bridges did exist, the heavy military vehicles often broke through bridge decks Û Lt. Col. Eisenhower concluded that the U.S. desperately needed a better highway system. That conviction was reinforced during World War II when Eisenhower used Germany’s autobahn system to move U.S. troops with great dispatch.
As a result, Eisenhower made an interstate highway system a keystone of his domestic agenda upon entering office in the mid-1950s. Following the 1955 defeat of a proposed bond-financed roadway-development system, Eisenhower successfully advanced a new tax-based financing plan, with the federal government bearing the lion’s share of construction costs, and a new map including urban interstates that paved the way for passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The ARTBA convoy departs San Francisco Û the terminus of the original 1919 convoy Û on June 16 and arrives at the Zero Milestone marker on The Ellipse in Washington, D.C., on June 29, the date President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Û www.interstate50th.org