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Highway History

Building the Interstate

Section 3

H.S. FAIRBANK Received first MacDonald Award, Nov. 18, 1957

D.C. Greer presented the first Thomas H. MacDonald Award to Herbert S. Fairbank. Fairbank graduated from Cornell in 1910 and joined BPR that year. His first job was editor of the Public Roads Magazine. He was credited with co-authorship of Toll Roads and Free Roads, Interregional Highways and Highways for National Defense.

An interesting sidelight was Mr. Greer's description of Mr. MacDonald's death: "As you know, approximately seven months ago on April 7, 1957, Thomas H. MacDonald down at Texas A.& M. College at College Station, Tex., walked over to the cigar counter after a very pleasant dinner with his family and friends and bought a cigar, sat down on a comfortable divan and passed away."

The July 1958 Issue of American Highways.

WM. E. WILLY, Pres. WASHO, at Salt Lake City, June 3, 1958.

Mr. Willy noted that the new Interstate Cost Estimate had increased the cost from $27 billion to $37 billion. Considering the extra 1000 miles that were not in the estimate, he speculated that $40 billion was not unreasonable. He felt that with the time stretch outs caused by limiting the apportionments to avoid deficits in the Trust Fund that 20 years to complete the System was not unreasonable. He had the following to say about planning:

LONG RANGE PLANNING

"Long-range planning is a wonderful thing, but with the rapidly changing national and world situation I wonder if it is wise and the most economical thing to do, to try and outguess them for perhaps more than three years at a time. I feel that if a State has a three-year construction program, where annually you drop off a year and add another, then you are pretty well ahead of the situation. There is a great need to have a flexible type organization where you can shift with the tide and accept overnight changes as a regular thing rather than as an emergency. If there is an active plan where you are working at least one year ahead of the current fiscal year, you will be in a better position to accept these sudden changes than if you have everything keyed to a beautiful but impractical long-range schedule. One overnight development could knock the whole thing out of kilter if you attempt to plan too far ahead. I know we are all hoping for the day when we have the stability to do real long-range planning, by which we can give the motorist and taxpayer and everyday citizen the most for his money. I don't know when this happy day will arrive but I am personally looking forward to it with a great deal of anticipation."

OPPOSITION TO BY-PASSES

He spoke of the problems they were encountering with the Interstate Program: "Number one is probably the by-passing problem. Try as we might, we have not been able to halt the loud outcry of the motel, restaurant and service station people. Most of the public are on our side, but they make up the great silent majority, so the public hearings are inevitably crowded with the anti-by-pass element. We can only hope that as the Interstate program pushes ahead, in spite of this opposition, the benefits will come to be so gratifying that the tide will automatically turn in the right direction."

PROBLEMS WITH LIMITED ACCESS

"Another problem is concerned with control of access. The big change in thinking as outlined in the 1956 Highway Act that now we are building highways for the benefit of the motorist and the property owner has little or nothing to say in the matter. After doing things one way for 40 years, since the passage of the first Federal-aid Highway Act, we now have to do a complete about face in our philosophy of road building. Here in the West this concept is proving highly unpalatable to our ranches and farmers, who have long been accustomed to almost totally unrestricted freedom, of movement. Until recently an unforeseen factor was the dividing of large range holdings as the Interstate System was routed, sometimes diagonally, through grazing or crop lands. Perhaps the water hole would be on one side and the grazing land on the other; round-up time without adequate cattle passes would be something to behold."

"...Now that the 1958 Act provides for hearings in rural as well as urban areas, we will do our best to lay some good-will groundwork for future negotiations with farmers and ranchers..."

A.E. JOHNSON, Executive Secretary AASHO at WASHO, Salt Lake City.

PROBLEMS WITH THE FIRST COST ESTIMATE

The rest of the title was "Voluntarily Established or Federally Imposed-The Decision is Ours." He described himself as the "Official Worrier from Washington." and worried that unless the States exhibited more progress in establishing voluntarily more uniform standards of practice and construction, the Federal Government would have to do it for them: "This fact is forcibly brought to our attention by the scheduled hearings starting July 7 before the Senate Public Works Committee on the General Accounting Office Report on the results of its checking the new Interstate cost estimates in eleven selected States. It is pointed out that non-uniformity in practice and variance from the controlling estimating manual and official design standards apparently exist, but that agency is not qualified to pass on the engineering reasoning involved. The Bureau of Public Roads has defended the estimating procedures and results..."

"...I do not believe that States have done anything that is wrong, or for which they must apologize, and engineering-wise they have produced the best comprehensive highway preliminary estimate that has ever been made, but they must aggressively explain what they have done and why, and explain estimating procedures and their inherent and expected accuracy. The law clearly stated that the estimates would be made on a uniform basis, and the official who is not an engineer, but must appraise the adequacy and adherence of the estimates to the law, must have his questions answered to his complete satisfaction, or he will want to write the law so tightly as to include engineering standards."

"Personally, I am disappointed that some minor variations from the official procedures manuals and official design standards apparently occurred at a time when cost estimates were to be used for the apportioning of federal road funds for the first time on a needs basis and allowed an element of suspicion and question to arise in official quarters. I deplore the carelessness and plain arithmetical errors that apparently crept into some of the estimates. You made a "B" in your Highway Engineering Course, but "FLUNKED" Arithmetic because of carelessness..."

STRESSES AND STRAINS ON THE OLD WAYS

He urged better cooperation and development of uniform procedures in a wide range of categories including signing, size and weight, etc.:

"The invisible wall around a State is falling down, and any "prima donna" official, who insists on imposing his own personal preferences instead of cooperatively working with others to develop the best possible uniform practice, is passing out of existence, and that started when the Highway Act of 1956 was signed..."

"...Many highway departments for the past generation have been basically rural highway agencies. We hear allegations that the average highway department is incapable of planning and building urban highway facilities. Unless the highway official is able to prove that he is fully cognizant of his increasing urban responsibilities and is capable of discharging them, this is another area in which we are threatened with federal legislation..."

"...The Interstate program is a blessing in many ways but creates new problems of serious proportions. It will give impetus to improved highway designs, techniques and operations but also spotlights many practices that must be improved and made more uniform. Through AASHO and the Highway Research Board we already have the proper organizations and facilities to develop technological advances, research and uniformity in the highway field as the need arises and do so in a minimum of time."

Excerpts From the January 1959 Issue of American Highways.

CLAUDE R. McMILLAN, S.C., AASHO President.

IN DEFENSE OF THE FIRST COST ESTIMATE

"...We have just gone through our first apportionment of Interstate System funds on the basis of cost estimates. It was to be expected that our first estimates would not be so accurate as later ones. Therefore, we had not expected the criticism that came from Congress. Admitting that some of the criticism may have been justified, we feel, nevertheless, that the estimates were prepared by the most competent engineers in the country and, with few exceptions, no one could have done better. The estimates were a sound basis for apportioning the interstate funds, bearing in mind that such errors as there were would be corrected by future estimates as construction progressed. I caution all members of highway departments, however, to profit by our experience of last year and to exert every effort possible to see that future estimates be prepared with such care and accuracy that they will not only look right but will also be right."

TRUST FUND RUNNING A DEFICIT

"...The Highway Trust Fund is now running a deficit, due to a provision in the 1956 Federal-aid Highway Act which limits apportionments of Interstate funds to the States to estimated amounts in the Trust Fund. This provision-the so-called Byrd amendment should be suspended, or even better, repealed."

"Because of the condition of the Trust Fund, Director Maurice Stans of the Bureau of the Budget has warned that a choice must be made soon between increasing the Federal gasoline tax or using general funds to meet the deficit."

"The Congress can correct this situation simply by applying all of the special motor vehicle taxes to the Trust Fund. The total revenue from all special Federal excise taxes of $3.5 billion annually is more than sufficient for all authorizations from the Trust Fund. Under the present law 100 per cent of the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, and the use tax on certain vehicles go into the Trust Fund, but not all of the special taxes on tires, trucks, buses and certain other items go in the Fund. All of these special excise taxes on vehicles should go into the Fund, and also, if there should then be a deficit, the deficit should be met from general revenues. If necessary, bonds could be sold against future revenues similar to the method proposed by the Clay Committee. Because of the national defense and general welfare value of the Interstate System highways, there is an inherent obligation on the part of the Federal Government to bear a part of the cost of the system from general funds."

"Congress should NOT increase the Federal gasoline tax. (They did.) Any such action would further add to the already heavy burden on highway users. Motor vehicle owners, as a class, are now paying more than their share of taxes. Furthermore, we must face up to the possibility, be it ever so remote, that the Federal-State motor fuel tax combination may be approaching the point of diminishing returns."

"I do not believe the American people want the program cut back..."

SEN. ALBERT GORE, Tenn. Address to the annual Meeting.

RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE INTERSTATE PROGRAM

He had some real question as to whether the entire highway program should be dependent on highway user taxes. He did not agree that the cost estimate was the best way to apportion Interstate funds but he hadn't been able to think of an alternative. He noted dissatisfaction in the Congress with the preoccupation of beginning the Interstate in the urban areas. He wanted to see more intercity pavement. He noted that he had been an opponent of the limited access concept but that he had finally been won over. He deplored the burgeoning idea of a time stretch-out of Interstate completion. He felt that we should keep on schedule.

SEN. FRANCIS CASE, S.D., Senate Public Works- Address to the Annual Meeting.

CODIFICATION OF TITLE 23

He stressed the importance of the General Highway Act of 1968 which codified all highway law into one statute called Title 23. This was separate from the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1958.

THE 1958 HIGHWAY ACT

He cited the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1958 as being significant in the following ways:

  1. Acceptance of the new cost estimates as the basis for making apportionments for the Interstate. He felt that that was a milestone.

  2. Establishment of bill-board regulation on new right-of-way on the Interstate.

  3. Establishment of $400 million in "D" funds to meet emergency needs to be matched by "L" funds advanced by the Government and to be paid back from future apportionments.

  4. Provision for hearings for rural people on highway locations giving them the same rights as by-passed towns and cities had.

BORROWING FROM THE GENERAL FUND

He said that the issues facing the Congress in the coming session were:

  1. Adequate financing of the Trust Fund. He noted that Congress had waived the Byrd Amendment the year before thus allowing the full authorizations to be apportioned even though there was a deficit with the condition that the necessary funds be borrowed from the general fund. The result was that repayments were going to have to be made to the general fund before the next apportionments could be made, thereby leaving nothing to apportion for 1961 and that 1962 could not exceed $600 million thus throwing the program way off schedule. Even after 62, the maximum amounts expected were in the range of $1.3 to $1.5 billion. He spelled out the alternatives:

    1. Place the burden of making the Trust Fund whole on the general funds of the Treasury. He felt that there was absolutely no hope of passage of such an initiative.

    2. Increase the highway user revenues and/or adopt new ones. This meant an increase in the gas tax and perhaps other user taxes, all of which would meet with strong resistance. He speculated on the feasibility of a "Use" stamp costing $5.00 and to be bought at the Post office.

    3. Authorize a bond issue to cover the anticipated shortage and stretch out the time that the existing levies were authorized. He noted that this solution had considerable support on the Hill but it would increase the National debt and the timing was poor for that.

    4. Modify the scope and/or standards of the Interstate. He noted that this might be the likely outcome. Simply stretching out the program as long as it took. He didn't feel that there would be much support for modifying the standards for the Interstate downward.

  2. A demand for greater highway safety. He said that there were more than 30 bills in Congress on the subject. Something was going to pass. The public would no longer put up with the carnage and the initiatives were going to have to go into all aspects of the road, the driver and the automobile.

    REIMBURSEMENT FOR INTERSTATE TOLL ROADS

  3. Requests by States for recognition of money they have put into free roads and toll roads that are on the Interstate System. He said that he had become more aware of how important this issue was after travelling in those States that had significant such mileage. He said that BPR reported that it would take $4.83 billion to reimburse them and that BPR was due to report on the subject to the Congress. He felt that the sheer size of the total and the current problems of avoiding deficits in the Trust Fund made it mandatory that the subject be put off till a future time.

REP. GEORGE FALLON, Md., Public Works Committee-Address to the Annual Meeting.

A FISCAL CRISIS APPROACHING

He reminded the audience that the 1956 act authorized $27 billion through 1969. The new cost estimate just completed raised the cost by 37% and that was only for 38,549 miles. He advocated readjusting the authorizations automatically when new estimates come in rather than having to legislate every time. He also recalled that the 56 act used a formula based on population and miles of road for apportioning Interstate funds until the new cost estimate could be completed. The Congress decided on using the 1958 cost estimate to apportion 1960 and 1961. Rep. Fallon felt that 1962 should also be apportioned using the same estimate in order to keep the apportionments far enough ahead but that the prospects of having no funds to apportion, as Sen. Case had described, made the raising of revenues urgent and this had to be done by Ways and Means. (Actually the Congress raised the gas tax by one cent and raised some other user taxes in 1959).

OTHER ISSUES

He noted that there was a technical glych in Title 23, just passed which altered a section of Highway law that had just been passed. This had to do with the maximum time of r.o.w. acquisition before construction. He said that that would have to be fixed by the new Congress just elected.

He hoped that Congress would deal with the reimbursement of toll roads question in the next session.

He stressed the need for careful advanced planning to keep the highway program progressing smoothly. He was fearful that the Congress might resort to making ad hoc decisions not well thought out.

REP. GORDON H. SCHERRER, Ohio, Public Works Committee- Address to the Annual Meeting.

POSSIBILITIES OF SCANDAL

He warned of the possibilities of scandal with such large sums at stake. His speech was quite routine and laudatory.

BERTRAM D. TALLAMY, Federal Highway Administrator-Address to the Annual Meeting.

THE FISCAL CRISIS

He stressed the need for solution to the fiscal crisis brought about by the suspension of the Byrd Amendment for FY 58 and 59. He warned against frills and unnecessary items creeping into the Interstate cost estimates. He said they must hold the line against too many interchanges.

URBAN PLANNING

He devoted considerable attention to the growing urban problem. He noted that several highway departments had set up special organizational units to deal with urban planning. He said that BPR had set up a special unit in the Office of Engineering to coordinate urban highway and Interstate System development with urban master transportation and land use planning:

"We must all realize that the time is rapidly approaching when it will be necessary to have an approved master plan of arterial highway routes in metropolitan areas, showing reasonably long-range extensions to the System. In our rapidly changing metropolitan areas such planning and programming is becoming increasingly imperative to assure the maximum benefit from our highway work and to avoid waste...I trust that in the immediate months to come all States will cooperate with appropriate metropolitan officials in the establishment of a basic State arterial construction program and to accomplish those objectives within the time which may be reasonably required for their establishment..."

The rest of the speech was a rather routine progress report.

Excerpts From the April 1959 Issue of American Highways.

A.E. JOHNSON, Executive Secretary of AASHO-Address to American Society of Public Administration.

The assigned topic of his talk was "Work Load Valleys and Peaks-Highways". He cited the many peaks and valleys that the program had experienced over the years and how devastating they were:

PROSPECT OF A SHUTDOWN OF THE INTERSTATE PROGRAM

"Unless there is legislation in the Congress this year to provide additional funds for the enlarged road program, there will be no apportionment of federal-aid funds to the State highway departments for the 1962 fiscal year for the very important Interstate highway program. There will be no interruption in the primary, secondary and urban Federal-aid programs as these systems have prior call on the highway trust fund with the balance going to the important Interstate highway system. To give you some idea of the effect of an interruption in the Interstate program assuming that the States do not get their 1961 apportionment of Interstate funds this coming July or August, thirty-two States by July 1960, a year from now, will have had to have stopped awarding contracts for construction on the Interstate network and the present rate of construction work in the Interstate system is over $2.5 billion annually."

"Thirty-two States will have to release engineering and technical help that they have recruited and trained for the enlarged program which, according to the Statement of Intent of the Congress, was to be a continuous program until the system, as contemplated, is completed."

"The State highway departments also advise that if the program is interrupted and then resumed later, it would take a full year just to get wheels rolling again after the resumption."

RESOLUTION: Association of Highway Officials of North Atlantic States.

PLEAS TO CONGRESS TO AVOID SHUTDOWN

"Resolved, That the Association of Highway Officials of the North Atlantic States, assembled in convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on March 18, 19 and 20, 1959, respectfully reiterates its previous recommendation to the Congress of the United States, to provide funds to retain the original schedule established by the 1956 Highway Act for the completion of the National Interstate Highway Program without impediment or delay;..."

RESOLUTION: Mississippi Valley Conference of State Highway Departments.

"Resolved, That the Mississippi Valley Conference of State Highway Departments in Annual Meeting assembled in Chicago, Illinois, March 19- 21, 1959, urges and petitions the Congress to provide adequate financing for continuation of the ABC highway system; and for the Interstate System in accordance with the intent of the 1956 Act;..."

Excerpts From the July 1959 Issue of American Highways.

RESOLUTION: WASHO

"Resolved, That the Western Association of State Highway Officials assembled in annual meeting in Billings, Montana, June 22-26, 1959, petitions the Federal government to give financial substance to the expressed intent of the Congress to build the Interstate system as nearly as practicable in a sixteen-year period and without interruption in order that the program can proceed;..."

Excerpts From the October 1959 Issue of American Highways.

SEN. ALBERT GORE, Tenn.-Address to the Governor's Conference, Oct. 5, 1959.

EXPLAINS CONTRACT AUTHORITY

"...Because of the necessary time required to plan highway construction, Congress has always proceeded to authorize expenditures for highways in advance of the fiscal year in which construction was expected to be completed and payment therefore made..."

"...The apportionment of highway funds has always been regarded as granting to the States authority to proceed to plan for highways and obligate such funds for highways and to obligate such funds immediately with assurance that the Federal Government's proportionate share of the cost will be reimbursed to them promptly upon completion of the work at any time beginning with the first day of the fiscal year for which the funds were apportioned..."

"...The Act of 1956 created a Highway Trust Fund to which revenue from certain highway user excise taxes were earmarked and from which payments to the States were to be made. It did not, however, alter or modify...or detract from the validity of an apportionment of highway funds to the States."

"The highway program is now in grave danger. Proposals are under consideration in high government circles, not only to curtail drastically the scope of the program, but also to undermine the legal effect of an apportionment of Federal funds and to engage in planned default on the part of the Federal Government in its obligation to reimburse the States promptly the Federal Government's share of the cost of highway construction on which the States have proceeded in reliance upon solemn commitments of the Federal Government."

CRITICAL OF THE ADMINISTRATION

"...By 1958, it was obvious that the revenues earmarked to the Trust Fund were inadequate to defray expenditures which would result from apportionments of funds if these apportionments were made in the full amounts authorized. The Administration initially proposed a slowdown of the program with future apportionments to be made at reduced levels. Many of us in Congress disagreed, urging that a slowdown would be harmful to the nation's economy, then in recession, and that such a slowdown would prevent the timely completion of the minimum program considered necessary and as authorized in the Act of 1956. The Administration subsequently agreed and recommended the suspension for 3 years of the so-called Byrd Amendment which would have restricted the apportionments made last year to a level which the Trust Fund would support. Congress agreed and passed the Act of 1958 which suspended the Byrd Amendment for two years rather than the three suggested by the Administration..."

"...Basic law authorizes appropriations from the General Fund to the Trust Fund as 'repayable advances' whenever funds in the Trust Fund are inadequate to defray expenditures arising from apportionments, which such 'repayable advances' to be repaid to the General Fund when they are no longer needed in the Trust Fund for that purpose."

"In its budget for fiscal 1960 the Administration did not request the appropriation of such a repayable advance. Instead, it recommended augmenting the Trust Fund by a 1 1/2 cent per gallon increase. I was one of those that opposed this increase..."

"...the Congress passed a bill, later signed by the President, levying an additional one cent tax on gasoline for 21 months and providing for earmarking additional highway user tax revenue in fiscal 1962, 1963 and 1964...It was said that the bill would permit the apportionment of...$1.8 billion in lieu of the $2.5 billion authorized for the Interstate System..."

"...The Federal Highway Administrator, Mr. Tallamy, testified before the Senate Finance Committee that even with the additional one cent gas tax, there would be a deficit in the Highway Trust Fund by June 30, 1960, in the amount of $157 million. It was proposed to handle this deficit simply by defaulting on the obligation of the Federal Government to pay the States promptly upon submission of vouchers."

"Mr. Tallamy testified further that even with the revenue provided under the bill, it was proposed to impose on the States 'contract controls' which would restrict and limit the right of the States to use funds already apportioned or which would subsequently be apportioned to them..."

"Subsequently the Administration submitted to Congress a supplemental appropriation request for an appropriation from the General Fund to the Trust Fund as a 'repayable advance' in the amount of $359 million. Included in the requested language, however, was a restrictive proviso which would require repayment to the General Fund of the entire $359 million on or before June 30, 1960. As submitted, the request was designed only to permit the Trust fund to honor vouchers promptly during the first half of the fiscal year. If the entire sum is repaid prior to June 30, 1960, there will be no way to avoid the default to the extent of $157 million to which I have referred."

"...I moved successfully to strike the proviso requiring repayment this fiscal year...This leaves applicable the existing law which requires repayment, not by any specific date, but when the Secretary of the Treasury makes a determination that the money is available in the Trust Fund for that purpose."

"Notwithstanding elimination of this language from the bill, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget revealed at a press conference on September 24 that the Administration proposed to require the Trust Fund to repay the entire $359 million prior to June 30, 1960. If this is done, as I have said, there will be a deliberate default to the States in the amount of $157 million this fiscal year, with the prospect of still further default during the next fiscal year."

MORE CONTRACT CONTROLS COMING

"I am not advised concerning the specific details or the form of contract controls under consideration. Apparently, however, a ceiling will be imposed on the amount of funds a State may obligate, by category of highway, during a given fiscal year, and even within a portion of a year. Under such a program, the amount of unobligated apportionments a State may have to its credit will be meaningless, except to the extent that the use thereof may be permitted within the ceilings established by Administrative action. The purpose of the so-called controls apparently is to limit obligations so that the amounts which the Federal Government will later be called upon to reimburse to the States will not exceed the revenues in the Trust Fund derived from earmarked taxes. Such a program would contemplate no appropriations from the General Fund as repayable advances other than those of a temporary nature which would have to be repaid within the same fiscal year in which appropriated."

"There is no statutory authority whatever for the imposition of such controls...The applicable provisions of law indicate clearly that the only legal restriction upon a State's use of its apportioned funds is its ability to provide its own share of funds and to plan for and construct highways to meet the engineering standards prescribed in the law."

He went on to review and spell out in detail Federal-aid project development and the review and approval process.

"...If the proposed controls are implemented, such action will mean that the Administration has no intention of requesting appropriations to provide funds to honor the obligation of the Federal Government which is implicit in the apportionment of highway funds. This obligation has never heretofore been repudiated, nor has such repudiation ever before, to my knowledge, been suggested."

"I am convinced that this attitude is not shared by the Congress..."

THE BRAGDON COMMITTEE

"...I should like to refer to another development which may have a far reaching effect on the Highway Program. When he signed the bill which increased the gas tax by one cent, the President announced that a complete review and restudy of the entire Highway Program had been ordered. I am informed that this study is being conducted under the supervision of Major General Bragdon, special Presidential Assistant for Public Works matters. This study is now in progress. I am genuinely concerned about reports relative to some of the recommendations which may be made as a result of this study. I have heard, although such is admittedly unverified, that the tenor of the report which will be issued upon completion of this study will be such as to negate completely the concept of the Interstate Highway Program which was recommended by a Presidential Commission headed by General Lucius D. Clay and which was endorsed by President Eisenhower and enacted into law by the action of the Congress and the President as the Highway Act of 1956."

BEN WEST, Mayor of Nashville-Address to the Annual Meeting, Oct. 15, 1959.

He reviewed the beginnings of the highway program and the 1939 report Toll Roads and Free Roads as evidence of the Government's early awareness of the urban traffic problem:

"...Twenty years ago the Bureau and the State Highway Departments were cognizant of the needs of urban and municipal areas, and, in all probability, more so, than municipal officials themselves at that time."

He traced the deliberations of the Interregional Highway Committee leading to the passage of the 1944 Act with its emphasis on urban areas. He then remembered Eisenhower's 1954 speech to the Governors calling for a "grand" highway plan:

THE BRAGDON COMMITTEE

"On September 22, 1959, an article appeared in the 'New York Times' in which President Eisenhower was quoted as saying that he was concerned that too much money was being spent for highway improvements in and around cities, instead of inter-city roads. The President disclosed that a comprehensive review of the Interstate Highway program's current policies, practices, methods, and standards has been under way since July under the direction of General John S. Bragdon, his Special Assistant for Public Works Planning."

"I am reliably informed that the Bragdon study is seeking to question the use of federal aid highway money to build the Interstate System through urban areas. The reason for the study, the 'Times' article stated, was the President's concern that the program might be departing from its original objectives and costing more than necessary."

"The Bragdon study might possibly seek to justify a policy of by-passing cities with feeder traffic using existing street patterns."

"I hope and pray the present Administration has not lost confidence in its own fine Bureau of Public Roads and in the respective State Highway Departments. I sometimes wonder if the Administration has faith in the statistical facts concerning urban population, its projections, and the number of vehicles expected in urban areas by 1975."

NOTE: Since the Bragdon Committee is referred to frequently during this period, a special report on that subject is appended.

"The President himself set the pattern and the goals in 1954 when he called for 'a grand plan for a properly articulated highway system that solves the problems of speedy, safe, transcontinental travel-inter-city transportation- limited access highways- and farm-to-farm movement- metropolitan area congesion-bottlenecks-and parking.'"

"His own Advisory Committee, the so-called Clay Committee,.. recommended a balanced program for a network of modern highways federal, state, and local. The Committee recommended that 'the Federal Government assume primary responsibility for the Interstate network.. to include the most essential urban arterial connections.'"

CRITICAL OF PRESIDENT EISENHOWER

"The President should know fully what the problems of urban America are. They have been demonstrated, forcefully illustrated, and discussed with him many times. I have personally participated in some of these conferences. Our Chief Executive knows that two out of three Americans live in urban areas, and there is sound reason to believe that the ratio will soon jump to four out of five....yet, in public policies, and in public acts, there seems to exist a definite current of deliberate disregard and discrimination against this great majority of our people, and the rumored objective of the Bragdon study is but one example."

DEFENDS AND SUPPORTS THE URBAN INTERSTATE

"...Let us not forget that roughly one half of Highway Trust Fund revenues comes from cities and urban areas. This fact alone is sufficient to justify the allocation of roughly one-half of the Trust Fund money in urban areas and cities, where, incidentally, the cost of construction per vehicle mile is much less than in rural sections."

"I simply cannot understand a philosophy of government which would install a military study group in one the most efficient and conscientious Bureaus in the structure of the Federal Government- the Bureau of Public Roads-with the apparent purpose of seeking to justify a policy of by- passing cities, to treat them as beggars at the back door, so to speak...The Mayors of this country, including myself, have already had all doubt removed that these funds would not be administered by the Bureau and the Highway Departments wisely and soundly."

He speculated that General Bragdon might have been chosen for the job because of the importance of National Defense but pointed out that, if that were the case, he was studying the wrong things.

"I have had the pleasure of serving both as Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the National Committee on Urban Transportation...I have also been Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Highways of the American Municipal Association and the American Association of State Highway Officials..."

"The National Conference on Highways and Urban Development brought together 55 top highway officials, mayors, public works directors, city planners, traffic engineers, business and civic leaders, and transit officials for a five day meeting a little over a year ago at the Sagamore Center of Syracuse University, under the general chairmanship of AASHO's incomparable Alf Johnson...It is my fond hope that someone on the Bragdon group will find the time to read the report of the Conference. I am confident that it will be a revelation to the reader."

"...The American people want this National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as you, their State Highway officials, designed and located it. The users of these highways are willing to pay for it, judging from the uproar back home last summer during the financial dilemma between Congress and the White House."

"Congress wants these highways built according to their expressed intentions, and not according to the dictates of special military study groups appointed from the ranks of Administrative staffs..."

MEMORANDUM OF LAW RELATING TO EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS APPORTIONED

THE ADMINISTRATION'S BASIS FOR FISCAL CONTROL

The October 1959 issue published a summary of the newly codified highway law Title 23 relating to the apportionment and project approval process. The article stated that: "There is no statutory authority for restricting expenditures to a level below that authorized by apportionments duly made. Counsel for the Bureau apparently relies upon 'inherent authority' as a legal basis for proposed contract control procedures. The following responses made by Mr. Enfield, Bureau counsel, to questions by Senator Kerr during hearings before the Finance Committee summarize the Bureau's position on the legal question involved:"

SENATOR KERR: "Mr. Enfield, the question which Senator Gore is trying to determine, and in which I am equally interested, is the basis in law of the proposal the director made a while ago or the policy being announced of contract control after an apportionment has been made, and of amounts of money within the apportionment as made..."

MR. ENFIELD: "The provisions in the law, that in my opinion give him that authority are found in sections 105, 106 and 110...Under the approval provisions of 106, which sets up the approval of the project, when that approval is given it creates under the law a contractual obligation to the Government to pay, to pay the Federal share of that contract."

"Now, I believe there is inherent in the approval which must be exercised under the statute by the Secretary, discretionary authority in the Secretary, to assure that when he constitutes that contractual obligation by approval that there will be moneys available to make payment."

The article goes on: "Prior to the creation of the Highway Trust Fund no control has been exercised over the obligation of apportioned funds except the limits imposed by the apportionment itself. No attempt was made to limit award of contracts to such amount as the Congress might have appropriated in its regular appropriations bill. On the contrary, States proceeded within the limits of apportioned funds available to them, and if the sum appropriated in the regular appropriation bill was insufficient, a supplemental appropriation was provided to make up the deficiency. The law setting up the Highway Trust Fund contains no provision modifying in any way the validity of an apportionment or limiting the availability for expenditure of the amounts so apportioned."

COMMITTEE NAMED TO INVESTIGATE THE HIGHWAY PROGRAM

THE BLATNIK COMMITTEE

"Under the chairmanship of the Honorable John A. Blatnik, member of Congress from Minnesota and a member of the House Committee on Public Works, a special 18-man subcommittee was named September 4, 1959, by Congressman Charles A. Buckley of New York, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Works."

The names of all 18 were listed:

"Chairman Blatnik announced...'Our main objective is to obtain solid facts about every phase of the Federal highway program and after preliminary investigations hold open hearings.'"

"Congressman Buckley stated, in naming Blatnik Chairman of the subcommittee, that he was confident the committee would conduct a hard-hitting, thorough but fair investigation."

"Buckley said the investigation was 'necessary and desirable in light of numerous serious complaints from many sources, especially members of Congress who expressed their irritation and exasperation during committee hearings and floor debate on the bill providing an additional increase in the Federal gasoline tax. Members of the Committee on Ways and Means were particularly critical of the highway program and questioned the cause of substantial increases in program cost estimates over original estimates. Charges of inefficiency, extravagance and waste were also leveled against the program. This is especially serious in light of the fact that the Federal government is assuming 90 percent of the cost of the gigantic Interstate Highway Program, and while some Federal supervision exists, the actual construction and administration of the program is carried out by State highway agencies.'"

THE MILLS COMMITTEE

"Another committee to be known as the 'Subcommittee on Administration of the Internal Revenue Laws' headed by the Honorable Wilbur D. Mills, Congressman from Arkansas and Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means is composed of 7 members of the House Ways and Means Committee:.."

The members of the Subcommittee were named.

"It is understood this Committee will deal with a study of the financial requirements of the program and its administration from the monetary viewpoint."

THE BRAGDON COMMITTEE

"Still another investigative group headed by Maj. Gen. John S. Bragdon, President Eisenhower's special assistant for public works planning, will study and review the Nation's federal-aid road building program to determine if it is still within its original concepts and objectives and will include a complete study of the policies and administration of the federal-aid highway program by the Bureau of Public Roads and an evaluation of urban needs on the Interstate System."

"Among those assisting Gen. Bragdon will be Brig. Gen. Lacey V. Murrow (USAF, Ret.) former Director of Highways for the State of Washington, now a consultant in Washington, D.C., Commander Charles M. Noble (USN, Ret.) former Chief Engineer of the New Jersey Turnpike and more recently the Director of Highways of Ohio, now a consultant in Princeton, New Jersey, and Newman E. Argraves, former State Highway Commissioner for Connecticut, now a consultant in Hartford, Connecticut, as well as people from the Department of Defense, and others."

REIMBURSEMENT PLANNING

BPR'S PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING THE FISCAL CRISIS

"In Circular Memorandum No. 21-00, dated October 6, 1959, directed to Bureau of Public Roads Regional and Division Engineers, Commissioner Ellis L. Armstrong presented the 'Reimbursement Planning' or 'Contract Control' as it has previously been referred to. The memorandum and charts which accompanied it are as follows:"

"'The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1959 (P.L. 86-342, approved September 21, 1959), provides additional revenue to the Highway Trust Fund for fiscal years 1960 through 1964. Provided that there is orderly use of existing authorizations, it is expected that the total revenues to be available during this period will support Interstate apportionments of $1.8 and $2.0 billion for the fiscal years 1961 and 1962, respectively, in addition to the apportionment of $925 million of ABC funds for the fiscal year 1961 and a similar amount assumed for the fiscal year 1962 but which has not yet been authorized.'"

"'In signing the Act the President stated in part:

"'Because the bill does not provide the level of revenues required for continuing the highway program on the schedule contemplated under existing authorizations, it will be necessary to make orderly use of these authorizations so that spending can be held within limits that will avoid future disruption of the program. This action will be required if the Federal Government is to meet promptly its obligations to the States and at the same time adhere to the self-financing principle upon which the highway program has been established.'"

"To provide prompt payment of vouchers on existing project agreements, legislation has been approved to appropriate a total of $359 million as a repayable advance from the general funds of the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund. This will be available as an advance during the fiscal year 1960 for the purpose of avoiding temporary deficits that would otherwise occur in the Trust Fund beginning in October and reaching a peak in January."

"It is necessary to provide for an orderly scheduling of obligations and contracts in order to assure that the anticipated revenues that will be available to meet anticipated reimbursement requirements during the current and next fiscal years are not exceeded. Our objective, in cooperation with the States, is to establish the amounts which each State may expect to receive in Federal reimbursement from the Trust Fund for fiscal year 1961 and perhaps for two or more subsequent years."

The memo went on to describe in some detail the limitations on obligations to remain within the income of the Trust Fund:

"The obligation schedule is designed to keep the demands on the Highway Trust Fund during the current and next fiscal year to the amount of the tax revenues accruing to the Fund which will be available to meet estimated reimbursement requirements promptly....States desiring to proceed at a rate faster than can be supported from available Trust Fund revenues may elect to do so but with the clear written understanding that vouchers cannot be paid until and unless funds are available for reimbursement. Under current estimates of revenue and expenditures this cannot be expected to occur before late in the fiscal year 1963. Separate identification obviously will be required for any project advanced on such basis, and the letters of authorization and the project agreements shall specify that the Federal Government will not be expected to pay reimbursement vouchers on account of such project until funds become available..."

Excerpts From the January, 1960 Issue of American Highways.-The Record of the 45th AASHO Annual Meeting, Boston-Oct. 12-16, 1959.

R.R. BARTELSMEYER, Ill.- The President's Annual Address.

EXPLANATION OF THE FISCAL CRISIS

"...We have all been keenly aware that for the past three or four years, everyone has been talking about accelerating and stepping up the activities in the State Highway Departments in order to gear-up to the level demanded by the greatly enlarged highway program. Early during 1959 the high plateau of activity aspired to had generally been reached and the leveling-off started. However, at about the same time, instead of remaining sure that the program would continue at the anticipated pace, just about the exact opposite occurred and until very recently there was no definite assurance that the program would not be drastically curtailed..."

"...Suggestions were made that the highway program should be turned off and on, in accordance with funds made available for short periods, or in accordance with the general economic situation..."

ACCUSATIONS OF CORRUPTION

"...We have seen a great increase in the attacks and criticism of the program. It must be realized that when any individual public financed endeavor gets as big as the highway program, such things are sure to occur. That is the very normal way we do things in this country. You hear accusations made that the program is beset with scandal and corruption. You hear that the highway departments are gold-plating the work on the Interstate System and are going completely overboard on planning and designing..."

"Special Sub-Committees of the House Public Works and Ways and Means Committees have been established to investigate the Highway program We welcome this move and should do all within our abilities to assist and furnish information to these committees, as they check into all phases of our highway activities."

MORE FEDERAL CONTROL?

"I would be remiss in my remarks if I did not call your attention to still another trend of thinking that is being advanced-to impose more Federal controls in the building and the operation of the Interstate System. The line of reasoning behind all this, I presume, is that because the large percentage of cost to construct is financed with Federal funds, complete controls should be imposed at the Federal level. The thing they forget is that it is the taxpayer at home who provides the Federal funds."

"...Two of my immediate predecessors as President, William A. Bugge and Claude R. McMillan in 1957 and 1958, both gave warnings of this trend toward greater Federal control in their annual meeting remarks. It is still receiving much support and should be watched very closely."

"...This does not infer criticism of the Bureau of Public Roads. The relationship between this arm of the Federal Government and the State Highway Departments has worked out very successfully for many years..."

"...We did not take a position (with the Congress) for or against an increase in the gasoline tax. We emphasized and asked that Congress and the Executive branch develop and enact a solution to prevent an interruption in the program. This was accomplished before Congress adjourned last month."

CONTRACT AUTHORITY

"A problem still with us is the Contract Authority and Reimbursement Assurance concept that the States have enjoyed and taken for granted for the past 45 years of Federal Aid highway apportionments. Until now the States have been free to move apportionments to obligation at any time desired, during the effective period, with the firm assurance of receiving reimbursements promptly. Now we have been informed a change in this procedure has been made. We trust there may still be some action taken by the Congress early next year if that is necessary, to keep this Federal-State relationship as it has been in the past."

URBAN PLANNING

"Great strides were made in connection with urban highway problems by the Joint AASHO-American Municipal Association Committee. A very concise and complete report of the Sagamore Conference held in late 1958 was released. The recommendations contained in this report should serve a very useful purpose in advancing the cooperative effort of all governmental agencies responsible for urban highway work. Following a directive of the Executive Committee a number of seminars were planned where highway planners and engineers would gain a better understanding of city and urban planning techniques. These meetings were cancelled on short notice when the assurance of continued Federal aid at the present level seemed doubtful. We hope these meetings can be reactivated in the future."

DEFENDS THE URBAN INTERSTATE

"It is rather alarming to note the considerations being given to a curtailment of the Interstate Highway Program in urban areas. Since some of the greatest and most acute needs for adequate modern highways exist in the urban areas, it is inconceivable that a sound and well balanced Interstate Highway System should not include extensions into these areas. For a public works project as comprehensive as the Interstate Highway Program, involving the large expenditure of public funds anticipated, it seems important to provide for some of the needs and spend a substantial amount of the money in the urban areas, if the program is to receive the fullest public acceptance. Our efforts should be to prevent this part of the program from being weakened or reduced in any manner..."

SEN. PAT MacNAMARA, Mich., Chairman Sub-committee on Roads.

HOW CONGRESS DEALT WITH THE HIGHWAY FISCAL CRISIS

"...We have just squeaked through another highway crisis in Washington, trying to make sure that the 41,000-mile program authorized by law proceeds somewhat according to schedule."

"I say we squeaked through because right up until the last moment we weren't sure that the program would continue at all much less go forward on schedule."

"As you know there were two aspects to this year's highway crisis, separate in the manner of handling, but both of them dealing with financing."

"One part was the financing of the entire Interstate program over the next two fiscal years, 1961 and 1962, and the apportionment of funds during each of these years."

"This was accomplished by imposing a new 1- cent a gallon tax on gasoline, on top of the present 3-cent tax, for a 21-month period which began October 1."

"The 1959 law also transfers half of the 10- percent excise tax on automobiles to the Highway Trust Fund for a three-year period beginning July 1, 1961..."

"...I opposed, in principle, both of these measures."

"In the first place, I do not like to see the imposition of increased consumer taxes on the Federal level. This is another unfair burden that is in no way based on the principle of taxation according to the ability to pay."

"Further, as a Senator from the State which is the home of the automobile industry, I have long recognized the inequity of excise taxes on automobiles..."

"...Even so, despite the new gas tax revenue, actual revenues to the Highway Trust Fund are still expected to be below need for fiscal 1961."

"This results in apportionment for fiscal year 1961 of only $1.8 billion, instead of the previously authorized $2.5 billion."

"...The second crisis developed when we tried to make sure that commitments already made to the States for the present fiscal year, 1960, would be fulfilled."

"This called for a repayable appropriation of $359 million from the Treasury's general fund to the Highway Trust Fund..."

"...The money was appropriated in a rider to the Mutual Security Appropriations bill, a rather unorthodox maneuver, but expedient."

CAUSES OF THE CRISIS

"...When the Highway Act was written in 1956 we thought we had provided such a plan, one that would carry the program to completion in 1972."

"...I suppose that it was inevitable that with such a tremendous undertaking all would not go according to plan."

"In the first place, the 40,000 miles when actually measured turned out to be 38,548 miles."

"This left 1,452 'saved' miles available for allocation, but the saving was more imaginary than real since the new allocation boosted the Government's $25 billion estimate by about $1.5 billion."

"Then there was a 15-percent increase resulting from local traffic needs, 3 percent from utility relocation costs, 12 percent from general price increases."

"Altogether these new costs have raised the original $25 billion Federal estimate to $36 billion..."

"Still another factor...was...the action taken by Congress last year...Primarily as an anti- recession measure the apportionment for fiscal year 1959 was increased by $200 million and for fiscal 1960 by $900 million...This... created an immediate drain on the Trust Fund amounting to an estimated $1.6 billion."

"At this point you may ask whatever happened to that extra thousand miles that makes this a 41,000-mile interstate program."

"That has been designated too, but no financing provisions are included in current legislation..."

THE ANOMALY OF THE BYRD AMENDMENT

"...The Byrd Amendment requires the Secretary of Commerce to limit actual apportionments to the States to the available revenue in the Highway Trust Fund."

"...The presence of this provision is thoroughly inconsistent with the financing plan contained in the 1956 Highway Act."

"The broad outline of that plan anticipated that there would be an interim period when expenditures outran receipts by the Trust Fund."

"It was expected that excess revenues in the fund in the early and latter years of the program would balance out the higher expenditures in the middle years. This would include repayment to the Treasury of advances to make up the interim deficit."

"However, this plan got a rude jolt with the adoption of the Byrd Amendment."

"...Last year, when Congress boosted the fiscal 1959 and 1960 apportionments, the Byrd Amendment was suspended for these two fiscal years."

"This insured fulfillment of the authorized apportionments for these two fiscal years with the $359 million appropriation from the general fund completing the 1960 commitment."

"However, while suspension of the Byrd amendment last year was necessary, the net effect was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

"Had we not enacted the new revenue raising measures this year, application of the Byrd Amendment would have meant no interstate apportionment for fiscal year 1961."

"And the apportionment for fiscal 1962 would have been only about $500 million instead of the planned $2.2 billion..."

THE ADMINISTRATION RELUCTANT TO BORROW

"...The present Administration refuses to consider more advances from the general fund even though it knows they would be repaid with interest."

"They refuse to consider this solution, a solution which was intended under the 1956 Act because it causes a temporary dislocation in the sacred budget."

"While it is called the Byrd Amendment it is actually Administration inspired. My own feeling is that it should be repealed, if we expect to carry out the intent of the 1956 Act."

"I cannot predict..our..next cliff-hanging adventure, but undoubtedly it will occur."

MURKY FISCAL FUTURE

"Further increased construction costs could certainly upset the precarious balance we have achieved."

"And we have got to decide how our two new States, Alaska and Hawaii, can share in this program as they rightfully should."

"Financing of the additional 1,000 miles must be worked out."

"The Byrd Amendment will continue to plague the program and the consumer faces the risk of the new gas tax becoming 'temporarily permanent' and the auto excise tax continuing despite the legal requirement to reduce it..."

REP. GORDON H. SCHERRER, Ohio, Subcommittee on Roads.

"...During the last six months, Congress and some other people dawdled and politiced so long with the highway financial crisis that we barely missed detouring the whole construction program up a blind alley."

"...It would be funny if it were not so serious, but I checked the record and found those who were crying the loudest about the program being too big were the very same people who just a year ago had panicked during the recession and voted to expand and accelerate highway construction by $1.6 billion, without providing the money for the trust fund to do the job. Less than 12 months later they had thrown their crying towels away and were urging that the program be cut in half."

CHARGES OF WASTE

"Some of our other friends made the Bureau of Public Roads and the state highway departments the chief whipping boys. In the short space of a few weeks we developed an amazing number of sidewalk highway engineers and experts on road legislation."

"The country was led to believe from the way some people talked that the depleted condition of the trust fund was due to the fact that the highway engineers had gone hog-wild with the people's money. It was charged that there were too many fancy, costly, and overly complex cloverleafs and interchanges; that rights-of-way were much too wide; that you fellows were deliberately picking out the highest priced real estate through which and over which to run the new roads."

"Charges of waste, inefficiency, and even fraud in the administration of the highway program were hurled about with some abandon. State highway departments were repeatedly accused of squandering money on the interstate system because the federal government was paying 90 per cent of the cost. It was argued that by raising the state's contribution to the interstate system, this waste could be stopped."

"...Irreparable harm can be done to a really fine highway program by ballooning up and unduly publicizing the mistakes and deficiencies and failing to point out how few they are in proportion to the thousands of fine and successful projects. It must be kept in mind that the political headline-hunters realize that incidents of wrongdoing make good press copy."

REASONS FOR THE FISCAL CRISIS

"Above all the record should show that none of the derelictions charged, true or untrue, were responsible for the financial crisis in the highway program. Let me give you the six factors that got us into this box or financial crisis."

  1. "The trust fund absorbed, as was not contemplated, approximately $1.5 billion of highway obligations due and owing on the effective date of the 1956 act."

  2. "In 1958 Congress, particularly the Senate, got the recession jitters, as I have said, and provided in the 1958 act for an acceleration of the road program by $1.6 billion. This was done without providing the revenue for the trust fund to meet this increased cost."

  3. "The Senate also added 1,000 miles to the 40,000 mile interstate system. These are often called 'political miles.' Again, no revenues were provided for the trust fund to pay for this additional mileage."

  4. "Highway standards and requirements were increased to take care of some local needs. Standards had to be increased because, like our population, there was an unexpected and unforeseen increase in motor vehicles. Even since 1956 motor vehicle use on our highways has increased at a far greater rate than was predicted by the experts just three years ago."

  5. "The original estimates of cost on which the 1956 act was based were made rather hurriedly by the state highway departments in 1954. There were some miscalculations. From 1954 to 1958 construction costs and right-of-way acquisitions increased by about 12 per cent because of inflation."

  6. "Even if all of these things which I have just mentioned had not happened, the successful operation of the trust fund was doomed at the very outset when the Senate added the Byrd Amendment. The 1956 House-passed bill contemplated that in the first years of the program expenditures would exceed trust fund receipts while in later years receipts would exceed disbursements. Therefore, in the early years there could be borrowings from the surplus near the end of the program. With the tremendously increased cost of the program, of course there will be no such surplus. Even if there had been a surplus, no borrowings could have been made because the Byrd Amendment provided that apportionments to the states could be made only to the extent that the trust fund could support the expenditures."

"...Why then did Congress only pass a temporary measure, and not provide the funds necessary to complete the entire program? Why did Congress not cut the program or change the distribution formulas or state contributions?"

CONGRESS WAITING FOR THE SPECIAL REPORTS

"Congress did not act simply because it did not have before it the evidence on which to act intelligently. If it had attempted to move in any direction these various controversial matters, it would have done so in the dark. It realized that 16 months from now it can act intelligently on all of the issues, because Congress will then have before it two reports resulting from extensive and exhaustive scientific studies and surveys that are now being made."

"These reports will enable us to determine the following highly controversial questions:

  1. Should the tax base for the trust fund be broadened to include other than highway users who may receive benefits from our modern highways, such as adjoining landowners, Department of Defense, and so forth?

  2. What effect do various vehicles have on the highways and the life thereof, and what standards and costs of construction are made necessary to carry and support the different sizes and weights of vehicles?

  3. What is the fair and equitable share of the taxes or charges that each class of highway users should pay?

  4. What will be the actual cost of completing the interstate system?

  5. Are highway users paying too much or too little of the cost of building and maintaining highways?

  6. Are commercial vehicles paying too much or too little compared to passenger cars?

  7. Should standards of construction, right-of- way widths, etc. be increased or decreased?

  8. Is the interstate or ABC system being discriminated against?

  9. Should the formula of sharing costs between the states and the federal government be changed?"

"It is now crystal clear that no one can decide or properly act on these numerous highly controversial issues, involving both financing and construction, until these 1961 reports are available."

THE BRAGDON COMMITTEE

"In spite of this, I learned to my amazement two weeks ago, first through the press and then from other reputable sources, that since June a special committee appointed by the White House (this was the so-called Bragdon Committee) has been busily engaged in preparing recommendations on many of the issues which will be the subject of the 1961 reports. As I have pointed out, I cannot possibly understand how any intelligent or sound recommendations can be made without the benefit of the '61 reports."

"Let me give you an example of one of the decisions that has already been made and which this White House committee is now in the process of trying to justify."

"These portions of the interstate system within industrial areas are to be substantially de-emphasized, if not completely eliminated. This special committee will try to find justification for eliminating the interstate system within industrial areas but, if it cannot do this, then it will definitely recommend substantial curtailment of this part of the highway program. Such a policy would be a rape of the very heart of the original Clay Report and the 1956 highway act."

"...The density of traffic on the industrial and urban parts of the interstate system is more than a hundred times greater than the average density of traffic on the remaining 99-plus per cent of America's highways. While those portions of the interstate system connecting industrial centers need rebuilding and improvement, the density of traffic on that portion of the interstate system is infinitesimal compared to that adjacent to and through the industrial and urban areas of this nation."

CRITICAL OF THE ADMINISTRATION

"...It should be apparent now that, if this new policy of eliminating or de-emphasizing the urban sections of the interstate system had been known, the 1 cent increase in the federal gas tax would never have passed the Congress. I was asked by the President, as the ranking Republican on the Roads subcommittee, to introduce the legislation to increase the federal gas tax 1 1/2 cents. I did so to save the highway program-to avoid more deficit spending which would accelerate the inflationary spiral. I didn't introduce the measure to continue a program out of which they were planning at the time to cut the heart."

"...I understand this new White House committee...plans some cutbacks in standards. I am sure, however, there is one member of that committee who will stick to his guns. Charlie Noble was Ohio's outstanding Highway Director..."

"In the Wall Street Journal of October 1, we find a quote which pretty well answers the question as to what constitutes real waste:

'Some of these plans may look too big for their britches in 1959 but they'll fit just right in 1979. It doesn't make sense to build something new and then have to rebuild it in ten years. That's real waste.'"

REIMBURSEMENT FOR TOLL ROADS

"...Ever since I came to the Congress seven years ago I have had the privilege of serving on the Roads Subcommittee with George Fallon, its able and conscientious chairman...A few weeks ago, because he did not succumb to politics to the detriment of the road program-because he did not support the pet project of the Chairman of the Committee on Public Works, he was for all practical purposes kicked out."

"His chief sin was opposing legislation that would have added another $4 billion price tag to the highway program. George Fallon, like I, believes in the policy of some form of reimbursement for toll roads and freeways built by forward looking states. However, he, like I, in these days of financial crisis, when we need all available money to build new highways to meet the critical traffic needs of this country, could not support reimbursement payments at this time. We could not support this legislation which would have jeopardized the passage of the financing bill."

CRITICAL OF THE BLATNIK COMMITTEE

"So the Chairman of the Public Works Committee (this was Buckley, New York who wanted the New York Thruway paid for by the Trust Fund) appointed a new special roads subcommittee (chaired by Rep. Blatnik) to investigate the charges to which I referred in the beginning of my speech. Of course, the regular standing subcommittee could and should have done whatever investigating is needed. It should be noted that this new investigating roads subcommittee, with three exceptions, has the identical membership of the Subcommittee on Roads. Of course George Fallon is not its chairman."

"It is obvious that the new committee was created to get rid of George Fallon so that the gentleman from New York could control and dominate it..."

"...Now why do I wash the Committee linens in public? First, this sub-committee is going to investigate among other things waste, inefficiency, and fraud. I was taught in law school many years ago that one must go into court with clean hands. I think you members of the state highway departments and the Bureau of Public Roads who are to be scrutinized should know all of the facts surrounding your investigators. I think the public may better evaluate the findings and reports of this committee, particularly in an election year when it is obvious to the least informed that the Bureau of Public Roads particularly is to be under attack..."

B.D. TALLAMY, Federal Highway Administrator, BPR-Address to AASHO.

His speech was very laudatory of the highway departments and he gave a status report on progress of the highway program.

DEALING WITH THE FISCAL CRISIS

"...However, some new concepts regarding the program have been advanced this year. The philosophy of acceleration enunciated in the 1956 Act and spelled out in the 1958 Act was in serious jeopardy. The whistles began blowing from several directions and it was nip and tuck during the recent session of Congress as to whether we would have a highway financing bill at all this year. Everyone here is familiar with the legislative history of the Federal-aid Highway Act of 1959. I won't go into it now nor will I talk about its provisions. The important point is that we do have legislation that will permit the Interstate and ABC Programs to advance with prompt reimbursement to the states at a reasonably satisfactory rate. Furthermore, the reduction in the Interstate apportionments for fiscal 1961 and 1962 is not too serious. We can live with it pending the establishment of an equitable and adequate long range financing plan. This, we hope, will be accomplished in 1961. In the meantime we have advised the States of the schedule of obligations or contracts which can be entered into with assurance of prompt reimbursement within the limitations of the Trust Fund."

"This is something new in Federal-aid history and something that is obviously not designed to make everyone happy at the outset. But, it is a step which must be taken in recognition of the stern realities of Trust Fund yields, and Section 209(g) of the Act of 1956 (The Byrd Amendment). It is obviously necessary for everyone to know what contracts can be liquidated within the present revenues available to the Trust Fund. The procedure to be followed has been outlined in a Circular Memorandum from Commissioner Armstrong. If the details are not yet familiar to all of you, I'm sure they will be before this 45th meeting is concluded."

THE PROGRAM UNDER ATTACK

"...In these general remarks I am touching only lightly on subjects which will be thoroughly discussed during the Committee sessions. I believe I should dwell momentarily, however, on a matter which will assume a great deal of importance to all of us. It is no secret that the Federal-aid Highway program is now under review by various agencies and Committees. This scrutiny involves both the Bureau and the State highway departments. It extends not only to the conduct of the program but to its underlying concepts and the legislative intent behind the successive Federal-aid acts. These various reviews are exhaustive and thorough. One of their announced aims is to reduce the cost of the Interstate System. Well, I'm sure any of us would welcome suggestions for cutting costs while still maintaining the major aims and purposes of the Interstate System. Several heads are always better than one in these matters and I trust that you will cooperate to the fullest in these inquiries into our activities. I'm confident that we have nothing to conceal or to fear and that the reviews may give public officials and the people generally a better understanding of our problems. The end result may well add stature to the highway official through public recognition of the importance of this job."

"In conclusion, it would seem that we can learn at least two lessons from recent events."

THE NEED FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS

"First, it is obvious to me that greater public information efforts must be devoted to the highway program-to its aims and purposes, to the problems confronting us, to the activities of the highway departments, including the what, why, where, when and how. Despite the efforts of the highway departments the Bureau and the many organizations involved in better roads movements, the general public is not well acquainted with what we are doing and why...I'm afraid all of us may have been guilty of hiding our light under a bushel at times when a little more illumination might have helped our cause."

THE PROGRAM UNDER SCRUTINY

"The second lesson, related somewhat to the first, is that every action of a highway official or agency-State or Federal-will be subject during the months ahead to the most careful scrutiny. I have no quarrel with that. Any of our acts, policies or decisions should be capable of standing on their own merits in the light of official inquiries. The point is that we must be able to substantiate them fully as to adherence to law and regulations and, where judgment is the dominant factor, to justify the decisions we have made. The highway official will find himself more than ever a man of many roles-administrator, engineer, accountant, efficiency expert, attorney and public relations man..."

RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY AASHO- the 45th Annual Meeting.

URBAN PLANNING

Resolution No. 1 "...That the urban sections of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways be constructed as planned under the provisions of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and that the State Highway Departments which have the responsibility of initiating such projects cooperate with the local government and planning officials, to the end that land use and urban development features will be given proper consideration."

CONTRACT AUTHORITY

Resolution No. 2 "...That the American Association of State Highway Officials in Annual Meeting assembled in Boston, Mass, October 12-16, 1959, urges that necessary action be taken at the Federal level to reestablish the long-standing principle of full Contract Authority and prompt reimbursement of all funds apportioned, in accordance with the Federal aid highway laws."

There were four more resolutions of routine nature.

A.E. JOHNSON, Executive Secretary of AASHO-"Better Transportation for Your City"

This speech was given to the American Municipal Congress in Denver, Nov. 30, 1959.

He reviewed Thomas H. MacDonald's forecasts and views of urban development and transportation going back many years and labeled him as one of the greatest transportation authorities the world has ever known.

AN URBAN PLANNING PRIMER

"With the enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the first ray of hope was apparent to many of the cities for taking care of some of the more critical traffic needs, but it came about with such suddenness and with a sense of urgency that it found many cities poorly prepared to help in planning portions of the new program in their areas."

"...As far as the first freeway in a city is concerned, if it follows a logical compromise between the desire lines developed from origin and destination studies and where right-of-way and construction costs are reasonable, there is little opportunity for an error in location, but the job is not that simple. There are, however, other problems than determining the routing of the facility that do require detailed planning."

"It is necessary to study the proper location of grade separations to prevent severance of communities and services. It is desirable to know how the highway will affect the city and how proper urban development affects highway needs and locations. It is necessary to know where interchanges should be located to integrate the freeway with the street pattern and best feed traffic to and from the facility. The construction of additional connecting freeway developments makes a comprehensive area-wide transportation plan essential."

He reviewed his role as Chairman of the Sagamore Conference on urban transportation planning and presented a summary of the resulting report "Guidelines for Action."

DEFENDS THE URBAN INTERSTATE

"A certain amount of hysteria surrounded the initiation of the big Interstate program. Since it is so big, many new groups and individuals were taking an interest in the highway program for the first time. Many were ill-advised. A program that historically had been primarily rural had suddenly taken on unprecedented urban characteristics and new problems."

"Insinuations were heard that State highway departments were incapable of handling the urban portion of the program. Also, that city planners wanted too great a part in the program and actually had little to offer that would be helpful."

"The Sagamore Conference proved these charges false and that each group had a place on the team. The highway engineer has designed and built most all the urban freeways in existence. They are the best qualified people in the world to handle the big assignment, but they need the help of the city administrator, the city planner, the city traffic engineer, the city engineer, and the civic leader if the maximum benefits for the urban area results."

"...I would not go so far as to suggest all Interstate highway improvements in an urban area should be delayed until a transportation plan is initiated and completed, but the planning process should be started as soon as possible, if not already done, so that the maximum local benefit can be derived from the big highway program."

"Recently, there have been several disturbing rumors circulating that proposals to drastically reduce or eliminate the urban sections of the Interstate System, as a means of cutting the cost of the big federal-aid program, are being weighed..."

"We also know that many in Congress think that the urban part of the Interstate System is too expensive to build, and the Interstate system should skirt the cities and that it should be up to the cities then to provide such highway facilities as might be needed to connect the urban area with the rural Interstate routes."

ACCUSATIONS OF GOLD PLATING

"...We have also heard a term, '90-itis', bandied about. The connotation placed on this alleges that the highway official has succumbed to a hysteria of 'gold plating' and overdesigning the Interstate System, especially the urban sections, just because 90 per cent of the construction is from the Federal till. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing is so pitifully inadequate as yesterday's alleged overdesigned facilities that are faced with the realities of today's traffic requirements..."

THE URBAN CUT-BACK A HOT POTATO

"It is my understanding that since it has become public knowledge that consideration was being given to reducing the urban parts of the Interstate highway program, as a means of reducing the cost of the program, it has become such a 'hot potato' that less emphasis is being given the proposal at least for the time being."

"No one should be lulled into complacency by this turn of events. I think my advice can be best illustrated by the story of the hunter and the bear that startled each other in the forest early one morning. The bear said to the hunter: 'Let's don't lose our heads and do something we will regret, let's talk this over. Exactly what do you want?' The hunter replied: 'I'm out for a bear skin coat.' The bear replied 'I'm out to find my breakfast-let us retire to the warmth of my den to discuss our problems.' A little later, a wood cutter saw the bear emerging from the den with a belch from his full stomach resounding throughout the silence of the forest. The woodcutter asked: 'I saw a hunter go into the den with you-What happened?' The bear replied: 'Well, we both got what we wanted. He is inside of a bear coat and I have had my breakfast.'"

"The keynote, in my words, that I would like to leave with you is: Plan your city's total transportation for the present and future on fact and need; it's too vital and too expensive to be done any other way or left to solve itself."

Excerpts From the April 1960 Issue of American Highways.

DAVID H. STEVENS, Maine, President of AASHO-March 30, 1960

This speech was given to the annual meeting of the Association of Highway Officials of the North Atlantic States, March 30, 1960. He reviewed the history of AASHO and the Federal-aid program.

THE PARTNERSHIP UNDER ATTACK

"...A review of events which have taken place during the year 1959 and looking forward to what is indicated in 1960 it would appear that despite the accomplishments which have been brought about by cooperation of the states and the federal government in the field of highway construction we are now being challenged to prove that the states cooperating with the federal government can carry on the federal aid highway program for the construction of highways in the future. It is being said that the program has now reached such proportions that the states are no longer capable of providing competent personnel to provide for the design and construction of these highways planned for the future. Some have said that the Federal Bureau of Public Roads has failed to adjust its procedures and policies to the expanded program. Charges have been made that state highway officials are not capable of determining locations of routes of highways, particularly in urban areas, and in some instances in rural areas. It has been said that this function should be taken over by others who, while they have come into this field only recently, nevertheless claim to be much more capable than highway officials. There have been statements to the effect that highway officials have become warped in their judgement by reason of the 90 per cent contribution by the federal government in connection with the Interstate program and that as a result highways are now being constructed which are overdesigned for traffic they will be required to carry in the future. There have been others who have indicated that the expanded highway program has now reached such proportions that questions as to financing and policy decisions must be decided at a higher level than that provided by the partnership between the state highway departments and the Federal Bureau of Public roads. There have been indications that we should have a national system of highways, probably administered by some federal agency. All of these things are apparently the result of those who have not had the benefit of the 45 years of experience in the highway field which is the result of federal and state cooperation as originally provided in the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1916."

THE NEED FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS

He went on to say that even though these events may shock highway officials, that is not the point or the remedy. They must remember that the Congress, State legislators, the public and other interested groups have every right to state opinions and to conduct investigations. In response, the highway officials must show competence in the stewardship of the program and they must educate by the presentation of facts so that the truth will emerge in the long run.

FLORIDA ROAD DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS AND NEWSMEN TOUR THE STATE
An Editorial in American Highways.

"Apathy shown by the general public last summer during the torrid fight in Congress over the future of the Interstate highway program proved to officials of the Florida State Road Department that citizens were not nearly as aware of the impact and importance of this new program as they should be."

FLORIDA INFORMS THE PRESS

"Realizing that nearly 85 percent of Interstate construction is on new location and not readily visible to the average citizen, these officials decided to conduct some type of program to inform the people of recent highway developments in Florida, particularly on the Interstate."

"...Since it was not feasible to take more than a small group on such a comprehensive tour, it was decided that a cross section of the State's newsmen would be invited so they-after looking over many of the major construction projects-could interpret the highway program for their readers, listeners and viewers."

"...The Florida Road Builders Association furnished an air-conditioned speaker equipped bus."

Various highway interest groups paid for meals and social hours for the members of the press for the tour of the entire state.

Updated: 10/21/2013
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