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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
"The essence of a national objective is 'the general welfare,' and in that regard road making stands pre-eminent. The tax of bad roads is more evenly distributed than any other. It falls alike on producer and consumer, but with especial weight on the poor in towns and cities who depend so largely on farm products for their subsistence. Road improvement would bring relief to every class. Moreover, the mere expenditure of hundreds of millions annually for labor and materials in the rural districts would give years of prosperity to the whole country . . . while by a wise use of the means available, within the span of one long life, and almost without effort, the whole great work would be paid for, the debt cancelled, and the noble heritage of Good Roads left free to our children's children forever."
General Roy Stone
"National Aid to Road Building"
Good Roads, September 1892


On October 3, 1893, General Roy Stone took charge of the new Office of Road Inquiry-with a budget of $10,000 and a staff consisting of one stenographer. Although his budget never exceeded $10,000, and was reduced to $8,000 in some years, General Stone energized his small Agency, making it a leader in the Good Roads Movement before he left office in 1899. In the 100-plus years since that first day, the Agency, having grown to include some 3,800 employees and division offices in every State of the Union, has followed General Stone's example by working with its State, local, and private sector partners to formulate the vision, to harness the best technology, and to foster a commitment to excellence that has made ours the most extensive road network in history. In the words of President Clinton, we are truly "the most mobile country in the world."

In 1996, the FHWA celebrates the anniversary of two of our greatest achievements-the start of the Federal-aid highway program 80 years ago (on July 11, 1916) and the beginning of the Interstate Highway Program 40 years ago (on June 29, 1956). This publication, FHWA By Day, tells the story of these events and many more-including the unheralded, routine, day-to-day activities of the thousands of men and women who have made the FHWA world renowned as a leader in surface transportation. This history-1893 through 1995-is told by briefly narrating some of the events-major, minor, and in between-the FHWA and its predecessor Agencies have been involved in since General Stone walked into his attic offices in the Department of Agriculture Building-long since torn down-for the first time.

What I believe comes across most strikingly is the broad range of our Agency's activities over the years. In addition to cooperating with our State partners on Federal-aid highway projects, the Agency has built roads in Federal reserves, often in some of the most difficult locations imaginable; has conducted vital research for nearly its entire history; worked hand-in-hand with State and local officials in the aftermath of hundreds of natural disasters; assisted in providing essential highway infrastructure in countries around the world and trained foreign personnel to carry on this work after we were gone; helped the United States through two world wars and several major military actions as well as through panics, recessions, and the Nation's worst Depression; provided leadership and national purpose in highway development; transformed itself several times to meet changing transportation needs and environmental demands; and fostered longlasting partnerships that have been at the center of our success.

As we focus in 1996 on the anniversaries of the Federal-aid highway program and the Eisenhower Interstate System, I hope FHWA By Day conveys to the reader a sense of not only our wide-ranging accomplishments, but how we have adapted to changing times in our service to the American people over 103 years. The key to our past-our commitment to the core principles of partnerships, technological excellence, and development of our human resources-is, indeed, the key to our future. FHWA By Day illustrates the solid foundation, built on 103 years of daily achievement by FHWA and its partners, for our transition to the challenges, many as yet unknown, awaiting transportation professionals in the 21st century.

Signature: Rodney E. Slater
Rodney E. Slater

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