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How long would it take to build the Interstate System now?

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A few things would stand out if the Interstate Hwy System were initially built under NEPA, as opposed to the 90/10 Federal match that started initial construction:

1. I-90 in South Dakota, I-10 in West Texas, and I-70 from Denver to the KS Tpk @Topeka would not have been built. Not enough potential traffic in those areas to justify grade-separated freeway improvements, even as a means of economic development. Which means....

2. Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois would've jointly funded initial construction and expansion of current Interstates 76. 80, and 88 (meaning, no Ronald Reagan Tpk.), and it would've been sold to both the public and the Feds as a long-haul route between Denver and Chicago (which it basically is today-traffic on 80 in NE is nearly double that of 70 in KS). :-o

3. There would most certainly be one single-number Interstate route from Chicago-Los Angeles, and it surely would've been I-66. There would've been one change, though: The freeway would've ended up following both today's I-17 and I-10 west of Phoenix.  :nod:

4. Florida would've tolled every Interstate on today's map, and FL would've most certainly built a tollway from Tampa Bay-Tallahassee. :spin:

In Pennsylvania, one huge Pennsylvania Turnpike System!

(The route across northern PA was being studied for another E-W turnpike when the Interstate system was born.)

And, routes that could be successfully tolled would get built before "free" routes!

Like brad2971 said, a lot of current interstate routes would not be built as traffic volumes would be too low.  (I-88 in New York comes to mind.)

Urban Prairie Schooner:
I would wager that without Interstates and other Federal transportation funding, most Louisiana cities would still be connected by two lane roads. A few freeways would have been constructed in the larger urban centers, and Airline Highway would probably have an extra interchange or two, but I doubt anything else would have made it off the ground.

This scenario assumes the absence of all Federal support for highway construction, of course. And even if there were Federal dollars, any major highway projects would take probably triple the time to complete.

Revive 755:
Probably very few interstates reaching downtown areas, and more beltways if the interstate system were to start construction today.  Assuming a delay in the start of the system and not 1956 instead having today's environment, there would likely be more four-lane US Routes that would be directly upgraded to interstate standards instead of building the interstate on a parallel alignment.



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