Interstate Highway Act of 1956
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The Dwight Eisenhower National System of Interstate & Defense Highways, Route Log and Finderâ€™s List
In 1956, the United States government implemented the Interstate Highway Act. This legislation provided twenty-six billion dollars to build interstate highways, linking the United States' major cities.
Construction of the interstate highway system was the largest public works expenditure in United States history. Pointing out the tremendous undertaking, President Dwight David Eisenhower concluded that, "the total pavement of the [interstate] system would make a parking lot big enough to hold two-thirds of all the automobiles in the United States. The amount of concrete poured to form these roadways would build . . . six sidewalks to the moon." While interstate construction took several decades to complete, the roads had an immediate impact on American life. They contributed to the rise of suburbs, as workers could more easily commute to work via the interstates. Communities like Parma outside of Cleveland, Ohio and Westerville outside of Columbus, Ohio, grew quickly as workers moved from urban neighborhoods to suburbia. Interstates also increased Americans' dependence on automobiles and oil, contributing to the rise of the trucking industry and the demise of railroads. Among the highways' negative impacts were increased air pollution and traffic deaths due to greater automotive use. To help maintain the highways, the Interstate Highway Act established an excise tax on gasoline.
Today, interstates crisscross Ohio. Odd-numbered highways travel from the North to the South, while even-numbered ones travel east to west. Interstates 70, 71, 75, 76, 77, 80, and 90 all traverse Ohio, providing Ohioans with quick access to most parts of the state. The only area of Ohio inefficiently served by interstates is the southeastern quadrant. This region is part of Appalachia, and the lack of a strong transportation infrastructure here has inhibited the area's economic development.