1-13-15-National Highway System Map

Interstate Highway System

Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015

On January 14, 1959 the Troy City Commission approved the unique route of I-75 through Troy. Because this decision was critical to the development of the City, we will devote this week’s stories to the Interstate Highway system and the platting of I-75 in Michigan and through Troy.

The Interstate Highway Act, signed into law on June 29, 1956, was a major achievement of the Eisenhower administration. The President’s first term was focused on negotiating an acceptable compromise between special interest groups and the critical need for a modern, efficient interstate transportation system. The final bill provided for the construction of a 41,000-mile system (later increased to 45,000 miles), financed almost entirely with federal funds (90 percent). The system addressed critical issues:

  • It improved traffic safety and reduced congestion
  • Provided economical transport of materials, products and people,
  • Provided efficient routes between strategic military locations during the Cold War.

Equally important, new limited access expressways had an enormous effect on aging industrial cities and new suburban communities. Shortly after the bill was signed into law, urban architect Lewis Mumford wrote, “When the American people, through their Congress, voted a little while ago for a $26 billion highway program, the most charitable thing to assume is that they hadn’t the faintest notion of what they were doing.”

Interstate highway routes determined the future of many communities. Towns on old highway routes languished or disappeared when the new expressways bypassed them. Communities like the City of Troy that were located along the new right-of-ways flourished. Finally, interstates that were designed to make the big cities more accessible also provided convenient exit routes.

Chuck Lehman, a Senior Planner for the City of Detroit and the City of Troy stated: “We all thought that the expressways would bring traffic into Detroit. They would make it easier for workers and businessmen to get into the city. None of us thought that they would do the opposite. They actually were the roads out.”

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.troyhistoricvillage/facebook. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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