Interstate and U.S. Highway Facts

Interstate and U.S. Highway Facts

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  • Congress passed a Federal Aid Highway Act in 1944 that described a "National System of Interstate Highways" limited to 40,000 miles. The act did not provide any funding, however.
  • In 1956, Congress appropriated $25 billion for construction of the Interstate system from 1957 through 1968.  The figure later was considerably revised.
  • There are 3,233 miles of the 45,000-mile Interstate Highway System in Texas.
  • The longest Interstate Highway in Texas is IH 10, running for 878.7 miles between El Paso and Orange.
  • The shortest Interstate Highway in Texas is IH 110, a length of 0.919 mile, in El Paso County.
  • The longest highway in Texas is U. S. 83, which extends from the Oklahoma state line near Perryton, to the Mexico border at Brownsville.  It is 783.5 miles long.
  • The shortest U. S. Highway in Texas is US 71, a length of 2.942 miles, in Bowie County.
  • U. S. 281 runs from the Red River border of Oklahoma and Texas on the north to the Rio Grande border on the south, through Wichita Falls, San Antonio, and McAllen.  Agricultural roads east of U. S. 281 are generally designated farm to market roads.  Those west of U. S. 281 are generally designated ranch to market roads.
  • There are 16 interstate highways in the state and 45 U. S. highways.
  • Texas’ first Interstate Highway/urban expressway was the Gulf Freeway (I-45) in Houston.  The first major portion of this road opened in 1952.
  • Interstate 40 opened in July 1984, superseding the famous Route 66.
  • If Interstate or U. S. Highways are east-west highways, they get even numbers; north-south routes get odd numbers.  Loops and spurs get three digits incorporating the number of a linking interstate or U.S. highway.
  • The famous Route 66 was renamed Interstate 40 in July 1984.  Route 66 signs started disappearing from Texas highways in 1985, when citizens heard they would be removed.  The signs were sent to Austin for public auction.
  • U. S. 81 and U. S. 287 in Montague County are paved with gold.  When 39 miles of these roadways were paved in 1936, sand taken from a local pit was mixed with paving material.  The sand contained gold but in small amounts.  According a roadside historical marker, the gold in the sand was valued at 54 cents per ton, or $31,000 in these sections of highway.

For more information, you can go to the Statistical Roadway Information page.

FACTS COURTESY OF TRANSPORTATION NEWS, OCTOBER 1997, TEXAS HIGHWAY MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 1967, AND TRANSPORTATION PLANNING & PROGRAMMING DIVISION