How the Interstate System has Transformed America

Highway System MapThis is no common stretch of asphalt.

Described as “the greatest public works project in history” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways even has its own dedicated website www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/homepage.cfm.

Officially launched when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, this network of roadways has a history which actually parallels that of Canal. In fact, the same year Canal was founded—1939—President Franklin D. Roosevelt submitted a report to Congress, Toll Roads and Free Roads, calling for the development of a “special system of direct interregional highways, with all necessary connections through and around cities, designed to meet the requirements of the national defense and the needs of a growing peacetime traffic of longer range.”

It seems lawmakers understood: the future of the U.S. economy required an efficient, effective transportation network. In a fortuitous move, Canal’s founder, William R. Timmons, tied the company’s focus to this new economic reality. Trucking was here to stay, in a big way. It was a smart move.

By 1953, Canal had become a true regional specialty carrier, with licensing in nine southeastern states. Just five short years later, Canal had expanded to 27 states and the District of Columbia. It seemed Canal was growing as rapidly as the roadway system.

Although the official Eisenhower project took over 35 years to complete and only accounts for roughly 1.1 percent of the total U.S. public road mileage today, it carries 24 percent of all highway travel. Regardless of the routes travelled, Business Insider calls trucks “by far the most crucial mode of transport,” and reveals that the U.S. trucking industry now moves $139 billion in goods annually (or $4,422 per second!) and trucks account for 83.7% of total commercial transportation industry revenue.

The size and scope of the trucking industry is likely greater than anything imagined back in 1939, or predicted throughout the 1950s and 60s as the interstate system grew, but it’s clear that Canal certainly chose the right area of specialization. Today, there is a whole new level of sophistication to underwriting the trucking business, mostly in the form of technology, and competition has expanded dramatically.

Yet Canal’s historical ties to the trucking industry serve it well. Canal understands its clients’ unique insurance needs, having grown alongside the industry since the beginning. Yet as Francis C. Turner, former Federal Highway Administrator from 1969-1972, said, “The Interstate System will never be finished because America will never be finished.”

Makes for a pretty exciting future for us all, and Canal looks forward to taking the ride alongside our insureds!

Top