It is a little known fact that the construction of the U.S. interstate highway system was the largest earth moving project in the history of the world, or that 45 of the 50 state capitals, along with the nation’s capital, are connected by the interstate system. Most Americans also probably don’t know that 25 percent of the 54,663 bridges on the interstate were built between 1965 and 1969, or that the first street paved with asphalt in the United States was New York’s Fifth Avenue.
To encourage more people to learn about the history and importance of America’s transportation, President Bush has officially declared May 16-22 this year’s “National Transportation Week.” This week is the 51st annual transportation week, which was originally declared by President Eisenhower to draw attention to the benefits of the highway system.
“National Transportation Week is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements in transportation and face up to the challenges ahead,” said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “We will continue to foster the strong relationship between industry and government, working as partners to spur economic growth.”
In addition to raising awareness, the week’s events also target youth awareness about careers in transportation, including highway construction. Activities are being held nationwide, with the largest event, the National Transportation Week Conference and Expo, being held Tuesday in Washington D.C. Transportation fairs and job outreach events are also being held at several universities across the country.
To recognize the impact of the transportation network, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association is highlighting unusual and unknown facts about the interstate and highway systems. The facts, which can be found on ARTBA’s website by clicking the link to the right, are from Dan McNichol’s book, “The Roads that Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate Highway System.”
McNichols recently completed a cross-country trek in a 1951 Hudson Pacemaker to publicize his book and talk about the importance of the interstate system to the country’s economy. His awareness trip was sponsored by ARTBA as part of its “Transportation Makes America Work!” campaign.
In addition the activities being held in various states, fifth-grade students across the country are also taking part in a poster contest with the theme “One Nation on the Move.” To find out about the different National Transportation Week events or how your child could enter the poster contest, click on the link to the right. McNichols book is available at Barnes and Noble.