Building American Infrastructure: Concrete and the Creation of Our Interstate Highway System

Paved roadways have been used for millennia to provide easy access for travelers and to speed the flow of commerce between far-flung destinations. In the United States, the modern interstate highway system offers transportation options for commercial enterprises and can allow individuals and families to travel quickly within their home states and across the entire country. The current highway system was created thanks to plenty of hard work and effort on the part of government officials and concrete contractors across the country. Today, your local Houston concrete contractor demonstrates the same dedication and commitment to excellence that made our highway system possible.

The Rise of the Automobile

The first roads in the U.S. consisted of worn tracks in grass and mud that were used by native people on horseback. Even after European colonists arrived, road building was not a top priority for these new settlers. As a result, many roads were little more than ruts or boards intended to keep wagon wheels from becoming stuck in the mud. The invention of the automobile and its increasing popularity at the turn of the 20th century, however, put pressure on government agencies to commit funds and effort toward the development of roadway infrastructure. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925 was passed by Congress in an effort to establish improved naming conventions for existing roadways and to connect roads into longer stretches of highway for greater ease of navigation and travel.

The Lincoln Highway

One of the primary prototypes for the modern highway system was the Lincoln Highway, which traversed 13 states and allowed drivers to go from New York to California along a single route. The roadway was opened on October 31, 1913, and covered a distance of 3,389 miles during its first few years of existence. Over time, this groundbreaking highway was renamed and absorbed into the highway system; however, the Lincoln Highway continues to represent one of the first forays into highway infrastructure on the part of U.S. entrepreneurs and government agencies.

Lack of Funding Stalls Progress

Even after the initial Federal Aid Highway Act was passed, however, lack of funding and leadership continued to plague the highway construction project. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1945 provided additional guidance and requirements for creating the national highway system. Because no funds were specifically earmarked for this project, the rate of progress was slow. In some areas, work was abandoned due to lack of money to pay workers and to purchase supplies.

Dwight Eisenhower to the Rescue

During his wartime experiences, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had many opportunities to observe the importance of logistics and transportation for himself. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1954 included provisions for $175 million in construction money to ensure that progress was made on these vital elements of infrastructure. Eisenhower was so committed to the development of these transportation routes that he pushed for the eventual authorization of $25 billion in additional funding through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Much of the success of the American interstate highway system can be attributed to Eisenhower’s timely intervention.

The Role of Concrete in Modern Highways

Advances in concrete played a role in the success of the U.S. interstate highway system. The first concrete roadway in the U.S. was built in 1913 and consisted of 24 miles of paved road near the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. As concrete became easier to handle and less expensive to use, more highways were constructed using this versatile material. Today, modern fast-track formulations can allow a Houston paving contractor to make repairs more quickly and more effectively than in the past. Cutting-edge techniques can also provide added help in rehabilitating and rebuilding damaged sections of pavement to keep drivers safer on the road.

Thanks to the hard work, dedication and expertise of concrete construction workers and contractors, the U.S. highway system is one of the best in the world and serves commercial and consumer needs alike. Your Houston foundation contractor is part of a proud heritage of achievement that begins with concrete and continues to build the infrastructure necessary to reach the goals of tomorrow.

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KCS Construction Services is a general contractor focused on commercial and industrial construction in the Houston area.

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