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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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April 14
1921 AASHO's Executive Committee confers with President Warren Harding and Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace. The President states he is averse to funding road construction unless the highways will receive proper maintenance.
1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appoints the National Interregional Highway Committee, headed by Commissioner Thomas MacDonald, to refine the "Interregional Highways" concept described in the 1939 report to Congress titled Toll Roads and Free Roads. The seven-member committee is directed "to investigate the need for a limited system of national highways to improve the facilities now available for interregional transportation, and to advise the Federal Works Administrator as to the desirable character of such improvements, and the possibility of utilizing some of the manpower and industrial capacity expected to be available at the end of [World War II]." The committee's Interregional Highways report, transmitted to Congress on January 12, 1944, provides the basis for the "National System of Interstate Highways." (See December 20, 1944.)
Drawing: Interregional Highways
Futuristic elevated highway as imagined in Interregional Highways. From original caption: ". . . a [department store] show window [seen on the left] at the elevated level [is] dressed appropiately with the kind of large display that would be needed for comprehension by express traffic."
1960 The Reporter, dated today, contains an article by future Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on "New Roads and Urban Chaos." It plays an important part, 31 years later, in debate on the landmark ISTEA. (See December 18, 1991.) "The crisis has come," Moynihan says. "It has been impossible for the cities to resist the offer of unprecedented amounts of money, however futile they might know it will be to spend it on highways alone. In one metropolis after another the plans have been thrown together and the bulldozers set to work."
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