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The History And Facts Of The Interstate Highways In The Bay Area

I was watching a show on H2 called “The United Stuff of America” and on the show they revealed some interesting facts that I didn’t know.

They were facts about interstate highways and I thought it was something I should share on BBH, so I did some research.

How Interstate Highways Came to Be

eisenhower interstate system, how interstate highways began

Photo from Wikipedia

The interstate highway system is officially known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways, because president Eisenhower is the one who pushed for the idea for them to be built. This was such a massive federal road-building project that began in the late 1930s, but it wasn’t until 1952 that Congress finally authorized spending and construction finally began. It was in 1956 that they came up with uniform construction standards that governed things like access, speeds, number of lanes, width of lanes and width of shoulders. These standards set rules for establishing the numbering for the routes.

How Interstate Highways are Numbered

Here are how the interstate highways are numbered:

  • Routes with odd numbers run north-south.
  • Routes with even numbers run east-west.
  • For north-south routes, the lowest numbers are in the west.
  • For east-west routes, the lowest numbers are in the south.

Examples: That is why Hwy I-80, which runs east-west is an even number and why Hwy I-5 is an odd number, since it runs north-south.

Bay Area Interstate Highway Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the interstate highways in the Bay Area.  These two interstate highways actually run between states:

  • Hwy I-80 starts in San Francisco and ends in all the way over in Teaneck, NJ. Its total length is 2,906.77 miles. (It became the first California freeway opened under the Federal Highway Act of 1956. )
  • Hwy I-5 starts in San Diego and ends in Blaine, WA. Its total length is 1,382.04 miles. 

These interstate highways run don’t run outside of our state, so they’re not truly “inter-state,” but they are a part of the Interstate Highway System:

  • Hwy I-280 runs from San Jose to San Francisco. It’s total length is 57 miles. (It is also one of two 3-digit Interstate highways to appear on opposite coasts of the United States. I-110 in California and Florida is the only other designation.)
  • Hwy I-880 runs from San Jose to Oakland. It is 47.22 miles long. 
  • Hwy I-580 runs from San Rafael to Interstate 5 near Tracy. It is 80 miles long. 

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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.