The Interstate Highway System, since being signed into law by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, has expanded from a small section in Missouri to a nationwide system of 47,000 miles. The original plans remain largely complete, but new economic requirements and opportunities exist that would only come about with the construction of new interstate highways.
Freeways provide for a slew of economic opportunities for the communities that lie along them. Most of the long distance car travel and freight in the United States take place along interstate highways. Many freeways in the United States do not have the status of Interstate Highways because of the lack of standards set by the Federal Highway Administration. New challenges of the 21st century along with the fact that the original interstate highway system being largely complete frees up funding for new highways in many states throughout the United States. New freeways are being planned because of the fact that the United States has changed economically and socially since the 1950’s.
Originally planned as a system of highways to evacuate people in times of war and moving supplies to front lines efficiently by way of a highway system, the interstate system has evolved in times of peace around the United States to bring economic and social benefits that were not seen when the system was first implemented.
Although some of the highways planned have clear benefits to the military and for civilian evacuation, many of the corridors actually have economic benefits as well, especially to regions of the United States that are isolated and impoverished. The following interstate highways are either in the planning phases or are in various stages of construction.
Interstate 69 is a highway that is in the process of being built in Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana through the south. It is part of a larger project to build a super corridor spanning Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The original portion of the highway is from Indianapolis, Indiana to the Canadian border at Port Huron.
The expansion has been met with controversy and is having problems finding funding in certain states. The corridor is considered High Priority and has been in the works since 1991. Many spurs and auxiliary corridors are also planned along the route and will connect many impoverished cities in the south to a region that spans the entire continent.
Interstate 49 is also under construction in many areas throughout the south. Currently, a section of Interstate 49 exists in Louisiana, which is the original corridor between Lafayette and Shreveport. Another section opened a few years ago in Missouri between Kansas City and Joplin.
Both of these sections will be connected through Arkansas and eventually span a distance between Kansas City and New Orleans. The biggest problem continues to be funding the corridor, but it is planned to be completed sometime in the 2020s.
Interstate 86 is under construction in the state of New York. It serves as a major connector between the Midwest and New York City without having to pay tolls through New York State. Originally slated to be complete in 2008, it has now been pushed back as far as 2018 due to slow funding sources.
The section is mostly freeway from the western end near Erie, Pennsylvania, and Binghamtom in New York. Beyond that, the highway is not up to full interstate highway standards, but is in various stages of planning and construction.
This highway was written into law in the 1980’s and has been under construction since then. As of today, the interstate highway is complete between I-70 and I-80 in central Pennsylvania. It is part of Corridor O of the Appalachian Development Highway System, and planners sought to bring economic development to this region of Pennsylvania in addition to connecting the largest university in the state to the rest of the state by freeway.
Currently, it is under construction or planned to extend from I-80 to Williamsport and on to Corning, New York, to connect it to I-86. It is also planned to extend south to Cumberland, Maryland and I-68.
Interstate 74 is currently in four segments. The original segment runs from Davenport and the Quad Cities on the border of Iowa and Illinois and goes to Cincinnati in Ohio. The other three sections appear in North Carolina from I-77 near the border with Virginia, from Greensboro to the southern part of North Carolina, and along US-74 in North Carolina.
The plan is to connect the three North Carolina sections with one another and have a unified corridor between I-77 near Virginia and Wilmington by way of the Piedmont Triad metropolis. There are currently no plans to connect the North Carolina section and the Midwest section in terms of funding or commitment, but it is a long-term goal.
California State route 99 is one of the busiest travel corridors in California and it is in the process of getting up to interstate standards.
It is planned to connect some large cities in central California such as Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Fresno is the largest city in the United States to not have an interstate highway running through it, and it is a busy economic corridor.
Interstate 11 is currently being constructed between two of the fastest growing cities in the Southwestern United States, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The corridor will run southeast from Las Vegas to Kingman, Arizona over the newly completed bridge at the Hoover Dam. It will then follow the corridor currently being used by US 93 to Phoenix.
The bypass around Boulder City is underway and the freeway to Kingman is currently under construction as well. The freeway is also construction around Phoenix. It is a major economic corridor that was as recently as 2000 mostly a two-lane road with dangerous turns and security concerns with the highway crossing over the top of Hoover Dam.
Interstate 41 is currently being proposed as the official designation for the freeway that is currently being signed as US 41 between Green Bay and Milwaukee in Wisconsin by way of Appleton and Oshkosh. It is currently awaiting full approval by the FHWA.
The highway is currently a full freeway that is up to Interstate Highway Standards, but it is older and requires some upgrading. The signing of the freeway as I-41 could take place as early as late 2014, pending approval from congress.
Interstate 3 is known as the Third Infantry Division Highway, which is in homage to the division based in Savannah, Georgia. It is planned to run from Savannah, Georgia, to Knoxville, Tennessee. It would provide another freeway pass through the Appalachian Mountains and a path away from natural disasters such as hurricanes.
This freeway was signed into being in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina as a way to get supplies effectively to the coasts and people away from the coasts in anticipation of the storm. The numbering does not fit into the interstate highway numbering system, where lower digit highways are in the west. It has not yet been funded and faces a lot of criticism, especially due to environmental concerns.
Interstate 14 (representing the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution) is a highway that is under consideration running initially from Augusta, Georgia to Alexandria, Louisiana.
In addition to being a powerful statement of the amendment on the history of the United States, it is also a strategic corridor connecting impoverished regions of the south and provides for a good East-West corridor for people getting away from the coast in anticipation of natural disasters such as hurricanes. The legislation allowing it was signed in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina as a way to plan for natural disasters. It also helps that the freeway connects some of the largest military bases in the country to one another.
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