Two MCI coaches were part of a historic cross-country convoy that celebrated the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s signing of the Federal Highways Act, which paved the way for the construction of the nation’s interstate highway system.
The American Association of State Highway Officials sponsored the convoy, which also included RVs, vans and antique cars. The convoy departed San Francisco June 16 and made 18 celebratory stops along its I-80 route before arriving in Washington, D.C., on June 29.
MCI President and CEO Tom Sorrells and his family joined the convoy as it came through Chicago suburbs, riding all the way to its final destination, where U.S. transportation officials held a ceremony.
The MCI coaches, a J4500 and D4500, performed “flawlessly” during the 3,357-mile cross-country journey, according to Dave Kane, one of the drivers.
Kane made the historical journey with fellow driver Bud Gilley, who drove the MCI Commuter Coach. Kane, who has been an MCI driver for 22 years, said his most memorable moment was a choreographed 44-motorcycle police escort on the way out of San Francisco, where the convoy was led by NFL broadcaster John Madden’s MCI E4500 cruiser.
In the half century that has followed Eisenhower’s signing of the federal highway bill, the system has grown to include 46,837 miles of roadway, 55,500 bridges, 104 tunnels and 14,750 interchanges. Yet the system isn’t keeping pace with the growth in vehicle miles traveled, noted Norman Mineta during the June 29 ceremony, a few weeks before announcing his retirement as U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “Building the system is a journey not a destination,” he said.
MCI, in cooperation with the American Bus Association, used the convoy as an opportunity to highlight the advantages of travel by motorcoach. With its “Go Green, Go Coach, Go MCI” slogan, MCI made the point that a fully-occupied motorcoach can take the place of 57 cars on the road.
“Most of us take our excellent highway system for granted, but the high price of fuel has everyone thinking about what they’re spending on the road,” said MCI’s Sorrells. “MCI motorcoaches offer greater fuel efficiency per passenger mile than cars, planes or trains. The cross-country convoy provided an opportunity for motor coaches to get out front, and MCI was pleased to represent the industry in this historical event.”