Kid’s Craic: Life is a Highway! Part I


By Megan Lardie

Have you ever heard of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956? Would you be surprised to learn that it is responsible for the suburb you might live in, the trucking industry, gas stations, motels, and the fun, family road trip? The highway system that exists today only began being built in 1956 and was going to be about 40,000 miles.

Today, it is continuously being improved and more sections are always being added. As of 2021, there are 47,000 miles of interstate highways in the United States, and this includes Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Whose Big Idea Was This?
When a young Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the Army, he took part in the Motor Transport Corps convoy that traveled 3,251 miles from Washington D.C. to Oakland, California. It took them 62 days to travel this distance. Today, using the interstate, it would take about 41 hours! 

When he was in Germany during World War II, he was able to see the early beginnings of the German’s Autobahn highway network and began to understand that a national highway system was needed for national defense. When Eisenhower became President in 1953, he appointed General Lucius D. Clay to investigate a need for a highway system. Clay determined it was clear that the US needed better highways for the ability to accommodate more cars, to be able to mobilize defense units, if ever necessary, and for the economy and future growth of the country.

The Federal-Aid Highway Act passed in 1956. This law authorized the construction of a 41,000-mile network of highways that would cover the nation. It budgeted $26 billion ($300 billion in today’s money) to pay for the work. The terms of the law stated that the federal government would pay 90 percent and this money came from an increased gasoline tax of 3 cents per gallon.

Fun with Numbers
Believe it or not, there is a method to how each interstate is numbered. First, primary roads have a one- or two-digit number. Shorter routes have a three-digit number, with the last two digits matching the parent route. For example, in Cleveland, I-480 breaks off of I-80 (Ohio Turnpike) in North Ridgeville, passes through several suburbs of Cleveland and then joins back up with I-80 in Streetsboro.

Major interstates that span long distances are given numbers that are divisible by five, such as I-5, I-10, I-90, and I-95. East-West highways are given even numbers. North-South highways are given odd numbers. Even numbered roads increase going from south to north and odd-numbered routes increase going west to east. For example, I-5 runs north-south from Canada to Mexico along the coast of California and I-95 runs north-south from Canada to Miami, Florida.

When your GPS is telling you to exit at Exit 164 it gives you even more information. On one- or two-digit interstates, the exit number is distance based, so the exit number has the same number as the nearest mile marker. Those are the little blue signs you see along either the side of the road or along the middle of the interstate. 

When there is more than one exit within the same mile, they are then given a letter in addition to the number. Mile marking beings at either the southern or western part of the state where the interstate begins. 

Next time you jump on the interstate, think about all the forethought that was needed to make it possible. When you are in a slow down due to construction, take a look at how they are trying to improve the interstate so you can get where you are going even safer and faster!

Kids in the Kitchen: Meatloaf Muffins

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • Additional ketchup, optional


  • Preheat oven to 375°. Mix the first 5 ingredients. Add beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Press about 1/3 cupful into each of 12 ungreased muffin cups.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Brush tops of loaves with 3 tablespoons ketchup; bake until a thermometer reads 160°, 5-7 minutes. If desired, serve with additional ketchup.

Note: Make a double batch and freeze them! Bake muffins without ketchup; cover and freeze on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet until firm. Transfer muffins to an airtight freezer container; return to freezer.

To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Place muffins on a greased shallow baking pan. Spread with ketchup. Bake in a preheated 350° oven until heated through.

Literature Corner

Night Driving
By John Coy

Share the journey of a father and son as they drive through the night. They must keep an eye out for big trucks and night animals. It is a real challenge to stay awake, but sharing stories and listening to baseball on the radio helps them stay focused. For ages 4-8, 32 pages.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
By Dan Gemeinhart

Coyote and her dad have been on the road for five years. In all that time, they have crisscrossed the nation living in an old school bus. It has been that long since her mom and two sisters died in a car crash. Coyote learns that back home the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished. It is the same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasure box.

Coyote makes an elaborate plane to trick her dad into driving 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days. Coyote learns that sometimes going home can be a difficult journey. Will she discover happily ever after back at home?  For ages 9-12, 352 pages. 

Lardie’s Laughs

Q. What has 10 letters and starts with G-A-S?
A. Automobile

Q. What travels from coast to coast without ever moving?
A. The highway!

Picture of Megan Lardie

Megan Lardie

*Megan is a Reading Intervention educator with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She has a BA from Hiram College and BA+ from Ashland University. She resides in Avon Lake with her husband, Joe, and their five children. She can be reached at [email protected].

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