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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
Table of Contents - November 30 - December 1
Also in November
1910 After graduating with a civil engineering degree from Cornell University, Herbert S. Fairbank joins OPR as a student engineer assigned to a good roads train. Throughout his long career with the Agency, he would have a profound influence on the country. Among his many achievements, he was the chief author of Toll Roads and Free Roads (1939) and Interregional Highways (1944), the two documents that established the basis for the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. These reports were based to a large extent on the 1930's highway planning surveys, which he oversaw from start to finish.
1917 As part of OPRRE's contribution to the war effort, the Engineer of Tests begins devoting a considerable portion of his time to helping the Emergency Fleet Corporation in the testing of materials for and the designing of concrete ships.
1958 Near Ottawa, IL, full-scale testing begins for the AASHO Road Test, designed by BPR, AASHO, and the HRB to obtain data on all significant variables affecting pavements and short-span bridges. Portland cement concrete and asphaltic pavement sections, as well as 16 short-span bridges, are included in the 7-mile long specially constructed test facility. Under direction of the HRB, the tests are being financed by the highway bureaus of the 48 States, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with financial support from BPR, the Automobile Manufacturers Association, the petroleum industry, and the American Institute of State Construction. The Department of Defense furnished heavy vehicles for the test runs. By completion of the tests in November 1960, a total of 1,114,000 axle loads will have been applied to the pavements and bridges, providing the information needed to develop a more refined and scientific design of pavements and short-span bridges.
Photo: AASHO Road Test track, near Ottawa, IL.
AASHO Road Test track, near Ottawa, IL.

1968 A 25-minute film produced by FHWA's BPR is shown three times a day on Saturdays in the auditorium of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology. The showings will help FHWA design an Electronic Route Guidance System to guide motorists to their destinations anywhere in the country. After each showing, viewers are asked to fill out a questionnaire identifying the information they would need to reach destinations without relying on road signs.
1999 FHWA's Alabama Division Office delivers more than 100 pounds of nonperishable food to Montgomery's Chisholm Elementary School for distribution to needy students and their families.
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