Ask a Trooper: Rumor about interstate is hard to dispel

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2021

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Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: In reference to the interstate, is it true that one out of five miles is straight so airplanes can land on there if needed?

Troy Christianson

Answer: No, this is a myth that is so widespread that it is difficult to dispel. The myth typically states the requirement came from President Dwight D. Eisenhower or the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. However, no legislation, regulation or policy has ever imposed such a requirement. Airplanes do land on interstates in an emergency, but the highways are not designed for that purpose.

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According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the interstate system was first described in a Bureau of Public Roads report to Congress, Toll Roads and Free Roads, in 1939. It was authorized for designation by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944, with the initial designations in 1947 and completed in 1955 under the 40,000 mile limitation imposed by the 1944 Act. President Eisenhower didn’t conceive the interstate system, but his support led to enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which established the program for funding and building it.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.