Seven Interesting Facts About the U.S. Interstate Highway System

The U.S. Interstate Highway System is a bit like air or water—of course you know it exists, and you use it all the time, but how often are you actually aware of it? But unlike air, the highway system hasn’t simply existed for billions of years; it took a lot of work and planning to build, and it is still being updated and maintained all the time.

As a company that sells highway signs in Vermont, we know a lot about the U.S. Interstate Highway System—but we recognize that this isn’t the case for everyone! With this in mind, here are seven interesting facts about the interstate system, from your trusted provider of construction zone signs in Vermont:

  • Length: The total length of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, across all 50 states, is 46,876 miles. To give you an idea of what that means, that is the length of nearly 700,000 football fields laid end to end!
  • Speed limit: The speed limit for the U.S. Interstate Highway System was set at 55 miles per hour in the 1970s, after the passage of the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act. If any states chose to set their speed limit higher than 55 miles per hour, they would lose federal funding to maintain their portion of the highway. Ultimately, this legislation was repealed in 1995, and states now have the authority to set their own speed limits.
  • Interstate number signs: You know those red, white and blue signs that tell you the number of the interstate highway you are on? The design dates back to 1957, when there was a national sign design competition. It is trademarked by the American Association of State Highway Officials.
  • Funding: These days, it can seem like a miracle whenever both parties in Congress can agree on something and get something done. Apparently it wasn’t very different way back when, as it took Congress a full 17 years to secure funding for the U.S. Interstate Highway System. That funding came in 1956, when Congress approved the non-tolled interstate system.
  • Enforcement: The U.S. Interstate Highway System depends on the cooperation of all 50 states. That means that each state is responsible for enforcing traffic laws and maintaining the highway within its state lines. That is what makes the system reliable for folks driving on it every day.
  • Numbers: Portions of the U.S. Interstate Highway System have their own numbers, and many of these overlap from state to state. However, no portion can have the same number as another portion that is located in the same state. That helps keep drivers from getting confused.
  • Important use: The U.S. Interstate Highway System is used by drivers every day for a wide variety of reasons. However, one of the most important reasons this system exists is so that people who need to quickly evacuate from a city or state will be able to do so safely. That’s just one reason why it’s so important that these highways are properly maintained.

Are you curious to learn more about the U.S. Interstate Highway System? If so, feel free to get in touch with the team at Worksafe Traffic Control Industries, your local source for highway signs in Vermont.

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