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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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October 6
1910 OPR's Maurice O. Eldridge addresses the Second Annual Convention of the Southern Appalachian Good Roads Association in Knoxville, TN, on "Road Laws and Road Building." As a Tennessee native, he recalls his boyhood days when, under the "statute labor" system, citizens paid their road tax by working on the roads. "We used to turn out in the fall of the year, in September or October, when the roads were hard and dry, and pile up clods, sods and vegetable mold in the middle of the road. If there were any mudholes we would usually haul large stones from adjacent fields and fill them, and that would usually make two mudholes, which were filled in the same way the following year."
1926 Chief Thomas MacDonald presents a paper to the Annual Convention of the American Society of Civil Engineers on "The History and Development of Road Building in the United States" (written with H. S. Fairbank) that becomes a standard reference for historians.
"There is but one limit which may reasonably be set. It is this: No road should be improved by expenditures of public funds in excess of its earning capacity. The return to the public in the form of economic transportation is the sole measure and justification of the degree of highway improvement."
Thomas H. MacDonald and Herbert S. Fairbank
October 6, 1926
1970 Administrator Frank Turner speaks on "Urban Growth and Mobility in the United States," at the Sixth World Highway Conference in Montreal. He says that deciding the role of each transportation mode is an issue of public policy. "The question is not so much one of choosing between competing modes as it is one of providing an effective mix of complementary modes."
1977 In Portland, OR, Administrator William Cox tells the Northwest Bridge Engineers Seminar that highway transportation would predominate over all other transportation modes for the foreseeable future. "Consequently, we have to correct problems with highway bridges immediately." He adds, however, that the size of the bridge program "must be based on a realistic assessment of what can actually be accomplished."
1981 At AASHTO's annual meeting in Chicago, Executive Director Les P. Lamm receives the annual Thomas H. MacDonald Award for continuous outstanding service.
1993 The last precast segment of the Double Arch Bridge of the Natchez Trace Parkway is placed, completing the 1,572-foot long superstructure. The bridge, designed by Figg Engineering Group for FHWA's Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division, is the first segmental precast concrete arch bridge in this country.
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