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His leadership in promoting the and moving the program forward on schedule has earned President Eisenhower the title "Father of the Interstate System." To Top How long is the Interstate System?Currently, the Interstate System is 46,876 miles long.Separate legislation allows the Federal Highway Administration to approve additional mileage if it meets full Interstate standards and would be a logical addition or connection.Beyond the 42,795 miles, this additional mileage is not "chargeable"—that is, it is not eligible for Interstate Construction funds under the , as amended, although the State may use other Federal-aid funds to help with construction. The Interstate System was built under the principles of the Federal-aid highway program, which was established in 1916.Therefore, the plan the President submitted to Congress called for establishment of a Federal Highway Corporation to issue bonds to pay for the Interstate System up-front, with the Federal excise tax on gasoline and lubricating oil (which then went to the general Treasury without a linkage to highways) was dedicated to bond retirement.Congress rejected this plan, but adopted a proposal to finance the Interstate System on a pay-as-you-go basis with revenue from highway user taxes.
As a result, Eisenhower formed internal committees to study the idea, enlisted the Nation's Governors to offer suggestions, and met with Members of Congress to promote the proposal.
The Federal Government made Interstate Construction funds available to the State highway/transportation agencies, which built the Interstates. The States own and operate the Interstate highways. Bureau of Public Roads built the bridge under special legislation approved by President Dwight D. Although the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia operate the bridge, it is owned by the Federal Highway Administration.
The one exception is the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge (I-95/495) over the Potomac River in the Washington area. When the first span of the replacement bridge, now under construction, is opened, the old bridge will be removed.
Therefore, the President proposed to increase funds for the Interstate System, while boosting the Federal share to 90 percent.
Under his proposal, the States would continue paying the same amount in matching funds for the Interstate System that they had been paying under the 1954 Act.