David J. Humphreys, retired president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and Country Coach Inc. founder Bob Lee will arrive in Washington, D.C., Thursday (June 29) as part of a nationwide 10-day convoy commemorating President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s signing of the law that created the interstate highway system.
“It’s the best highway system in the world, and more amazing than any of the Seven Wonders of the World if you take into account all 41,000 miles of the interstate system,” Humphreys told RVBUSINESS.com.
Eisenhower signed the bill creating the system 50 years ago Thursday.
Sponsored in part by RVIA, the convoy departed San Francisco June 19 with 15 stops between there and the nation’s capital. Ceremonies Thursday will be attended by Norman Manetta who recently announced his retirement as the Bush Administration’s only secretary of transportation to date.
Sponsored by the American Society of Highway Transportation Officials (ASHTO), the caravan traversed North America primarily on I-80 and I-70. The route basically retraced a similar trip by Eisenhower and others in 1918 across the U.S. that was the impetus for Eisenhower backing creation of the interstate system while he was president in the interest of national security.
“They damaged 15 bridges that had to be rebuilt,” said Humphreys, one of the convoy’s spokesmen.
Between 20 and 30 assorted trucks, vans and RVs traveled with the convoy at various times, most often accompanied by police escorts, Humphreys reported.
Humphreys and Lee traveled in Lee’s custom designed 42-foot Country Coach diesel pusher. Lee also brought along a double-deck Featherlite fifth-wheel trailer towed by a large commercial tractor truck that carried a restored 1956 Ford Mustang, two three-wheel motorcycles, several radio-controlled trucks and other “toys,” according to Humphreys.
“Bob Lee is personally paying for three drivers and for his own fuel to be part of the convoy because he thinks the interstate system is an important thing for America,” Humphreys said.
RV historian David Woodworth participated in the San Francisco kickoff and an event in South Bend, Ind. Joe Cahn, the self-proclaimed commissioner of tailgating, also participated in two events along the route.
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS), which videotaped during the 10-day convoy, plans to broadcast a special program about the anniversary.