UGA Special Collections Exhibit Explores How Interstates Paved the Future

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Display case with sign "A Mighty Network of Roads at Last"In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak put the brakes on visits to UGA Special Collections Libraries, where an exhibit was set to take Georgians on a road trip through the history and politics of the state’s interstate highways. This fall, archivists with the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies have paved the way to the exhibit’s return. Exhibit case with map and photo of men by interstate sign

The exhibit Paving the Road to Progress: Georgia Interstate Highways traverses the rocky path of the interstate system’s development, which cost far more and took much longer than predicted.

Artifacts on display include historic maps, reports, correspondence and legislation that trace the tension between politicians, landowners, and motorists, as the interstate highway system took shape in the second half of the 20th century. In addition, political cartoons, pamphlets, and posters reveal the cultural impact of interstate travel.

Display case with road signs and maps "Road Rage"“Road politics is a central feature of modern Georgia government,” said Sheryl Vogt, director of the Russell Library. “This exhibit offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the often contentious process that took the Interstate Highway System from concept to reality here in Georgia.”

Paving the Road to Progress: Georgia Interstate Highways will remain on display through April 24. 

The galleries at the Special Collections Libraries, located on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, are open to visitors for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with extended evening hours until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit