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Road America: The madness of the interstate

2 months ago

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Sam Smith | Journalist


27 February 2024

It is more than 48,000 miles long and 67 years old. It crosses cities, fruited plains, even bodies of water. It is 90 per cent funded by the federal government but owned by wherever it lives – the property of Florida when in Florida, of Maine when in Maine, and so on. Its construction was partly inspired by Adolf Hitler and yet also championed by a man whose work helped put that mustachioed twit out of business. It carries around 40 per cent of America’s daily freight traffic and thus represents a crucial link in the nation’s economy.

It is the Interstate Highway System, aka the Eisenhower System, after Dwight D. ‘Ike’ Eisenhower, the president who helped bring it to life. The people of my country are sometimes bored on it. Occasionally illegal on it. Very often eating melted cheese on it. But we are never, ever unhappy to have its wonders on tap.

Except, of course, when a wheel on one’s car falls into a gargantuan Indiana pothole at 60mph and the force of the jolt causes that piping-hot melted cheese to find one’s lap instead of one’s mouth. In that case, a person – in the general sense, of course, and certainly not your narrator – might sit at the wheel, doused from belt to bucket in dairy, dreaming up inventive curses for everything: interstates, cows, laps in general, the mother of the lorry driver in the next lane, and so forth.

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