50th Anniversary for Interstate System

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Many of us take for granted all the work and planning that goes into the roads we travel. That work will be celebrated this year with the 50th anniversary of the interstate highway system.

In 1956, the U.S. interstate highway system was born. It provided relief to intercity traffic and made long distance travel easier. The Texas Transportation Institute or TTI was instrumental in improving safety conditions for those roads.

" TTI has been very active in developing roadside safety hardware such as guard rails, bridge rails, and break away sign supports that make the roadside a safer environment in case a motorist leaves the roadway," said Roger Bligh with TTI.

Bligh does various forms of crash testing. He says in the early days of interstates, there was a lack of awareness for roadside safety and design problems.

" We have made tremendous progress over the last 40 years in reducing the rate of fatalities," said Bligh.

However, Bligh says there's still more work to be done.

" I think the rollovers and cars overturning is still a large problem that we can address and do better on," said Bligh.

Interstates have a major impact on the economy. Since Texas tops the nation in exports, businesses across the state rely heavily on Interstates to transport goods.

" In 2005 alone our estimates indicate that its contributions to the Texas economy was in excess of $100 billion, so it has impacted our state economy and our ability to compete both nationally and internationally," said David Ellis with TTI.

It's been 50 years of improvements and innovations and TTI expects to continue down this road of prosperity.