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There are some spectacular scenic drives in Texas. One such route is along Texas' highest highway, a spur from Texas 118 that leads to the McDonald Observatory near Alpine.
Looking back on 50 years of national highways Kay Bailey Hutchison "Don't Mess with Texas"reflects a flair that Texans have. By echoing the "Don't Tread on Me"sentiments of the early American colonists, this slogan captures the independence and spirit ingrainedin us. Our state is full of hard-working citizens with a can-do attitude. The Texas Department of Transportation adopted this same "Don't Messwith Texas" slogan 20 years ago as partof an anti-litter campaign for Texas highways. Highways are part of our state's culture andidentity, and they are also a piece of Americana. Our nation recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system, an American institution influenced by the spirit of Texans. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in Denison, initiated a national system of highways by signing the Federal-Aid Highway Acton June 29, 1956. Texan Frank Turner was known by many as the "Father ofthe U.S. Highway System" for his work as an engineer within the Federal Highway Administration. And the most popular sign on the road - the familiar red, white and blue shield of the interstate highway system -was designed by Texan Richard Oliver in 1957. Over the past five decades, our interstate highway system has grown into a 46,876-mile network of roadways through which our interstate commerce circulates. For 50 years, our highways have brought us together and put us in the fast lane to prosperity. President Eisenhower first recognized the need for a national highway system in 1919 when, as a young Armyofficer, he crossed the country from Washington,D.C., to San Francisco in an Army convoy. The trip took 62 days,and poor road conditions forced the convoy to abandon nine Army trucks that became stuck in the mud along the way. Later, when pushing the Nazi troops backto Berlin at the end of World War II, then-General Eisenhower used the new German autobahn system, which served as a model for our national highway system. Texas has the most interstate highway miles of any state. Our highways serve animportant ecomoves), nomic purpose by transporting goods, people and ideas. By facilitating movement and bringing businesses together, our highways help keep our state vigorous, innovative and open. Texas roads have also played a major role intrade; our exports are the largest of any state. From 2001 to 2005, Texas exports grew 50 percent more than U.S. exports. There are some spectacular scenic drives in Texas. One such route is along Texas' highest highway, a spur from Texas 118 that leads to the McDonald Observatory near Alpine. By the end of this trek, the elevation is 6,791 feet above sea level. Another stretch of Texas road takes advantage of one of our state's 48,000 bridges. The road to South Padre Island runs along the coast before crossing the sparkling Laguna Madre on Texas' longestbridge at 2.4 miles, the Queen Isabella's Causeway. Of course, Route 66,which is prominently featured in the summer hit movie "Cars," cuts across the panhandle through Amarillo. The most famous Texas road is El Camino Real de Los Tejas. This 2,580-mile long trail weaves across our state and through our history. Followed by explorers, missionaries, settlers, and even revolutionary soldiers for almost 150 years, the Camino Realwas the first great road in Texas. In 2004, the Senate enacted my legislation to designate this route as a U.S. National Historic Trail, recognizing the trail's place in our history. The U.S. interstate highway sysbody tem has successfully fulfilled President Eisenhower's dream of quickly and conveniently connecting America. In his 1963 memoir, he wrote of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956,"More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America with straightaways, cloverleaf turns, bridges, and elongated parkways. Its impact on the American economy - the jobs it would produce in manufacturing and construction, the rural areas it would open up - was beyond calculation." It is hard to imagine what America would look like today without our highway system, and in 1990, to honor President Eisenhower's vision, President Bush signed legislation renaming thehighway system, "The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways." As families take to the road for summer vacations, they will appreciate the vast, diverse country in which we are privileged to live. This column was provided by the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
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