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Archive for Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Building named after famous son

State office tower linked to Eisenhower’s highway legacy

June 8, 2005

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— A 14-story building the state bought and renovated now bears the name of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Kansan who commanded the Allied forces in Europe during World War II and later served two terms as president.

The building was dedicated in Ike's name on Monday, the 61st anniversary of D-Day, the Eisenhower-led invasion of Normandy that was to bring an end to the war.

The ceremony paid tribute not only to Eisenhower's military leadership, but also to his role in helping start the nation's interstate highway system through funding provided by the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which he signed as president in 1956.

The building is now home to the Kansas Department of Transportation, the State Gaming Agency and the State Racing and Gaming Commission.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said the building, housing the state agency dealing with highways, is a fitting tribute to Eisenhower.

"The highway system plays a critical role," she said. "It increases commerce and good jobs, and it also makes sure the infrastructure is in place for our state and our country."

Dan Holt, director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum at Abilene, called the interstate highway system the "largest single public works project in U.S. history."

He said Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene, learned the importance of good transportation systems during his time in the military, noticing the efficiency with which German towns were evacuated using the Autobahn as the Allied invasion advanced.

The state bought the building from Security Benefit Group of Cos. for $18.5 million in 1999.

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