Right Down the Middle: The Final Stretch of I-80 Is Completed in Utah

August 22, 1986

In Utah, a milestone in the development of the Interstate Highway System took place with a ceremony commemorating the completion of I-80 near Salt Lake City. This was the final segment of that east-west route to be opened. The formal debut of that 4.5-mile (7.2-kilometer) section also gave I-80 – running an uninterrupted 2,907 miles (4,678.4 kilometers) between the New York City metropolitan area and San Francisco – the distinction of being the world’s longest completed freeway.

The one-hour dedication ceremony for the new section, which had already opened to traffic five days earlier, occurred about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) from where a golden spike had been pounded into a train track back in 1869 to celebrate the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad.

Utah Lieutenant Governor W. Val Oveson, addressing the fact that the last section of I-80 was completed in the Beehive State, good-naturedly told attendees at the ceremony that Utahns aren’t slow “but just the most important and right down the middle.” In his own comments at the ceremony, Regional Federal Highway Administrator Morris Reinhardt underscored the significance of the segment in the wider context of the entire Interstate Highway System. “This will go down in history,” he told those in attendance. “You will be able to read about it in your history books.”

For more information on the official opening of the final part of I-80, please check out https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byday/fhbd0822.htm.

Additional information on I-80 in Utah is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_80_in_Utah.

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