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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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November 9
1921 President Warren Harding signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, revitalizing the Federal-aid highway program by focusing funds on a system consisting of 7 percent of each State's road mileage. Three-sevenths of the system must consist of routes that are "interstate in character" and up to 60 percent of Federal funds can be spent on this portion. (See November 1, 1923.) Chief Thomas MacDonald and AASHO's W. C. Markham participate in the ceremony, which is filmed because of its importance.
1921 Forty trucks, furnished by BPR, begin operating on a test pavement in Pittsburg, CA. The trucks run at a set speed and are loaded with only a moderate tonnage. As the test continues, the loads will be increased. Heavy war equipment will be used at the end of the test to give the final touch of demolition to the highway. The Pittsburg test highway, which is 1,371 feet long, includes 13 sections paved with concrete slabs ranging from 5 to 8 inches in thickness.
1966 The National Traffic Safety Bureau and the National Highway Safety Bureau, authorized by the Highway Safety Act of 1966, are established in the Department of Commerce under the direction of Dr. William Haddon, Jr. On April 1, 1967, both bureaus are transferred to the new USDOT as part of FHWA; they are consolidated by Executive order into the National Highway Safety Bureau under Dr. Haddon on June 6, 1967. The NHSB became NHTSA in March 1970.
1973 With the Nation in an energy crisis, FHWA releases tests by retired FHWA employee E. M. Cope on whether lower speed limits save gas. In the tests, fuel consumption increased by 30 percent when the speed of the test vehicles went from 50 to 70 mph.
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