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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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April 1
1919 Thomas H. MacDonald of the Iowa State Highway Commission is appointed "engineer in immediate charge of work under the Federal aid road act," pending reexamination by Congress of his salary. He had been interested in the position of BPR Director, and had been recommended by AASHO, but balked at the low pay ($4,500 a year). On July 1, 1919, he was appointed to fill the renamed position of "Chief of Bureau" at a salary of $6,000. MacDonald headed the Agency until 1953.
1953 Francis V. du Pont assumes responsibility as Commissioner of BPR. When a reporter asks why he came out of retirement to take the job, du Pont replies, "I can assure you I'm not in it to make a living." The job pays $16,000 a year. He adds that the BPR is unique and that there is "no yardstick to compare it with other agencies."
1967 On the Mall in Washington, DC, Secretary of Transportation Alan Boyd officiates at ceremonies marking the opening of the new USDOT. The USDOT is the fourth largest Federal Department, with 100,000 employees. Within USDOT, FHWA is established as a merger of BPR, the National Traffic Safety Agency, and the National Highway Safety Agency, all from the Commerce Department, and the motor carrier safety functions of the ICC. Although BPR remains in the Matomic Building at 1717 H Street, NW., FHWA headquarters is established under Administrator Lowell Bridwell in the Donohoe Building at Sixth and D Streets, SW.
1992 "Don't be April Fooled" is the motto as the single commercial driver's license requirement goes into effect pursuant to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. Jill Hochman and Stan Hamilton of the Office of Motor Carriers orchestrated the most massive public education outreach campaign in FHWA history ("everything but skywriting and smoke signals") to get the word out to 5 million drivers who needed licenses by the deadline.
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