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U.S. Interstate Highways, as a Transit Map

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U.S. Interstate Highways, as a Transit Map

U.S. Interstate Highways, as a Transit Map

View the high-resolution infographic to see the most legible version.

Transit style maps are sort of a “rite of passage” for any upstart information designer.

People tend to be obsessed with them, and for good reason. What the maps lack in attention to fine details, they make up in their sheer ease of use, organization, and ability to reduce complex geography to simple, elegant shapes. They show the big picture in way that’s easy to follow, even for seemingly unrelated topics like the extensive road network of the Roman Empire.

Today’s infographic fits in with this theme, coming from designer Cameron Booth. Showcasing the network of Interstate Highways in the United States, it puts the transit map style to good use.

Note: The design shown is from about five years ago, but here’s an updated 2017 version in poster form.

The Interstate Highway System

You may know the network of roads simply as “the Interstate”, but it actually has a much longer and official sounding title: The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. That’s because it was championed by President Eisenhower in the 1950s during his first term in office, after he saw the logistical effectiveness of the new Reichsautobahn in Germany.

Here are some facts about the Interstate Highway System that you may not know:

  • Part of the justification of building the system was to have a means to evacuate citizens from major cities during nuclear attacks.
  • The system was designed so that in an evacuation situation, traffic could be directed to move in all lanes in one direction.
  • In today’s dollars, the cost of construction was approximately $526 billion.
  • Activists got frustrated with the construction, and stopped highways in New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. As a result, some urban routes ended up as “roads to nowhere”.
  • In a mile of highway, there are about 3 million tons of concrete. In comparison there are 6.6 million tons of concrete in the Hoover Dam.
  • Roughly 374,000 vehicles travel on the I-405 in Los Angeles every day – no wonder it’s the city with the most traffic in the world.

Today, there are now approximately 47,856 miles (77,017 km) of highway in the system – about 6,000 miles (9,700 km) more than originally planned. Meanwhile, the Interstate Highway System accounts for one-quarter of all vehicle miles driven in the country.

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