Interstate convoy to roll into Iowa 80

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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials cross-country convoy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System arrives Friday, June 21, at the Iowa 80 Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa, with more convoy stops and festivities planned along the way.

Billed as the largest truck stop in the world and home of the Trucking Hall of Fame and Truck Museum, the Iowa 80 will be the eighth stop on a 14-day tour across 13 states. Iowa 80 owner Dave Meier will act as welcoming escort in one of the many restored trucks from the Truck Museum. Participants then will be able to tour the museum and see the vintage trailers, trucks and military transport vehicles on display. The convoy will be in Walcott from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and then will depart for its next stop in Ottawa, Ill.

The convoy will stop Monday, June 26, at the Bridgestone Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, in honor of the late tire pioneer Harvey Firestone, a longtime advocate of paving and connecting the nation’s roadways. Great-grandsons Andrew Firestone and Merrill Eisenhower Atwater will speak at the event. Harvey Firestone loaned two trucks equipped with his pneumatic tires to Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s original 1919 U.S. Army caravan that left the future president convinced of the need for an interstate highway system.

Two Firestone trucks are participating in the 2006 convoy, and the company is unveiling new graphics for both trailers for the event; one side of the trailer honors President Eisenhower for his vision in signing the bill creating our modern interstate system in 1956, and the other showcases Harvey Firestone and his 1918 dream to “Ship by Truck,” encouraging America to move its products to market by truck.

The artwork is reversed on the second trailer, so people visiting ceremonies planned along the route or passing the convoy on the highway can view both the Eisenhower and Firestone graphics from one side. Firestone’s new “Ship by Truck” logo is on the back doors of both trailers, and the AASHTO logo is affixed to the tractors’ sleeper cabs.

Freightliner also is loaning one of its heavy-duty tractors, a Run Smart Century Class S/T, to the trip. “The trucking industry hauls nearly 70 percent of all freight moved across America,” says Jonathan Randall, director of product marketing for Freightliner Trucks. “More than 80 percent of our communities depend solely on our industry for delivery of their goods and products, and it’s the Interstate Highway System that makes this possible.”

The caravan will end in Washington, D.C., on June 29. For a complete schedule of 50th anniversary events, go to www.interstate50th.org.