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The Interstate Turns 50

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From the in case you didn't notice files, readers and drivers, rejoice! This year is the 50th anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. A special site called "Florida's Interstates - A Half Century of Progress" wants to "Welcome [you] to the party! There's a nationwide celebration going on in 2006.

It has been 50 years since the Interstate Highway System officially began with the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The Interstate System helps Florida provide many of the most livable communities in the nation for residents and visitors alike, while preserving the state's diverse environment.

Really? OK. I'm prepared to roll with that. But what about this?

I suggest you start off by viewing the video, Roads Well Traveled: 50 Years of Florida's Interstate System, or by reading Gerald Ensley's article, "When you think about it, interstate highways are pretty cool".

I view the video every day through a device I like to call my windshield. I'd prefer not to think about it.

America's would-be autobahn was the product of a February 1, 1939 directive to the Chief of the Bureau of Public Roads "to investigate and make a report of his findings and recommend to the Congress ... with respect to the feasibility of funding, and cost of, superhighways not exceeding three in number, running in a general direction from the eastern to the western portion of the United States, and not exceeding three in number, running in a general direction from the northern to the southern portion of the United States, including the feasibility of a toll system on such roads."

The Bureau emphasized the need for action:

When one observes the countless impediments that embarrass the movement of twentieth-century traffic through the eighteenth century streets of some eastern cities one wonders how long it will be, with the assured further increase in traffic, before complete congestion will result.

Didn't we reach that point about 20 years ago, give or take? About 30 years or less after our "superhighways, not exceeding [six] in number," opened for business?

In a stroke of unfortunate coincidence and having strictly nothing to do with this dubious celebration, Riptide is hard at work compiling New Times' upcoming Road Warriors' Guide to South Florida. Add your observations, anecdotes, advice, gripes and the like here at I-95 Sucks! and the best comments will be published with the guide in December.-Frank Houston

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