From Robert Sullivan’s “An ImpalaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s-Eye View of Highway History” (The New York Times: 14 July 2006):
Another traveler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, spent two months in 1919 driving a military convoy across the country; the shoddy roads left a lasting impression on him. After World War II he studied HitlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s autobahn and concluded that the American military should have one. In 1956 he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which, the president recounted in his memoir, resulted in enough concrete to build Ã¢â‚¬Å“six sidewalks to the moon.Ã¢â‚¬Â The new highways were originally meant to loop around cities that could be skirted should they be destroyed by atomic bombs. Instead, the loops started a suburban construction boom that continues to this day. [Robert] Sullivan reports that Phoenix, a city that virtually rose out of the Interstate, currently gobbles up land at the rate of 1.2 acres per hour.
In the 1960Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s state toll roads entered into the system, extending the web to all corners of the country. Today almost 47,000 miles of Interstate highways – with attendant motels, fast-food courts and construction projects – have paved over the continent with such efficiency that one can move from sea to shining sea with speed, economy and almost zero interpersonal interaction.