Coast to Coast CaravanJune 29, 2006, marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Even though this system profoundly altered our society by changing the way we move people and goods, there is an increasing percentage of Iowans living today that cannot remember our nation without an interstate system, often taking it for granted.
To assist in raising awareness about the importance of this highway system and its needs, the Iowa Department of Transportation joined the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) of Washington, D.C. and several member states in co-sponsoring a celebratory transcontinental motor caravan in June 2006.
The caravan began in San Francisco, Calif. and ended in Washington, D.C., traveling nearly 3,000 miles along the interstate system on a route parallel to that taken by Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower in 1919 during his epic transcontinental military cavalcade. Eisenhower acknowledged that this trek laid the foundation for his belief that the nation required an efficient interstate highway system. (Click here to see the 2006 caravan route map).
Eisenhower crossed Iowa in 1919, where his soldiers battled days of engine-clogging dust, and bridges and culverts that collapsed under the weight of their heavy trucks. Despite the difficulties the troops encountered, the caravan was greeted by throngs of welcoming Iowans who supplied them with bountiful Iowa hospitality.
While many things have changed since that precarious trip in 1919, the hospitality of Iowans has endured. When the transcontinental caravan crossed Iowa in 2006, we had the opportunity to welcome the national delegation. AASHTO scheduled stops in Urbandale and Walcott, where media events were held.
Both events were tremendous successes, drawing hundreds of supporters from local communities and beyond