California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Headquarters - Public Affairs Office
Mark DeSio
(916) 654-5782

June 1 , 2006  


On June 16, a cross-country convoy will launch from California to commemorate President Dwight D. Eisenhower's signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act

Sacramento – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) today unveiled a new Web site to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of America’s interstate highway system. Browsers navigating the site can view a collection of vintage photographs. They also can read about the history of the interstate system in the Golden State, and delve into interesting interstate trivia. For example:

· As a young soldier in 1919, it took Dwight D. Eisenhower 62 days to cross the country. This strongly influenced his belief that America needed a national highway system. In 1956, President Eisenhower authorized the Federal-Aid Highway Act, creating America’s interstate system.

· California holds part of three of the four longest interstate routes in the country. I-80 begins in San Francisco and stretches 2,899 miles to Teaneck, New Jersey, making this route the nation’s second largest interstate segment. I-40 begins in Barstow, stretches 2,555 miles to Wilmington, North Carolina, and ranks third. The fourth longest route, I-10, begins in Los Angeles and stretches 2,460 miles to Jacksonville, Florida.

· In 1964, the final 10 miles of I-80 were constructed over Donner Summit. The American Society of Civil Engineers judged this “one of the two best engineering feats of 1964.” The other? NASA’s Cape Kennedy.

· The nation’s interstate system dives 52 feet below sea level along Interstate 8 in El Centro, near the Mexican border, and peaks in elevation at 11,158 feet at the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel in Colorado.

Caltrans will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system on June 16 at San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. A convoy comprised of buses, big rigs, motor coaches and vintage and modern vehicles will launch at 9 a.m. Secretary Norman Y. Mineta of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Caltrans Director Will Kempton will and Secretary Sunne Wright McPeak of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency will be on hand for the launch.

The convoy, which includes an MCI motor coach belonging to TV sports commentator and former Oakland Raiders Coach John Madden, a Firestone-sponsored big rig truck and vintage and modern vehicles, will travel from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in 14 days and visit 20 cities. It will reach the nation’s capital on the day of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“The original vision of President Eisenhower brought us the system of freeways that seamlessly connect each state today, and Caltrans is committed to ensuring the state’s transportation system continues to work safely and efficiently,” said Kempton.