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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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June 29
1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, on his last day at Walter Reed Army Hospital following surgery on June 9 for ileitis, signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, ushering in the Interstate era. Title I increases the Interstate System to 41,000 miles (from 40,000 miles authorized by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944) and authorizes $25 billion over the period 1957-1969 as the Federal share (90 percent) of the cost of construction. Title II, the Highway Revenue Act of 1956, establishes the Highway Trust Fund and provides that the highway program must operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks tells reporters $1.125 billion would be allocated to the States immediately for "the greatest public works program in the history of the world." The President, he says, "was highly pleased."
1961 President John F. Kennedy signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which increases Interstate authorizations. It revises the existing schedule of highway-user excise taxes and makes permanent the temporary gas tax of 4 cents per gallon approved by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1959. These changes provide the sound financial footing needed to complete the Interstate System.
President John F. Kennedy during signing ceremony for the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1961. From left to right: House Majority Leader John W. McCormack (MA); Senator Francis Case (SD); Senator Pat McNamara (MI); Senator Dennis Chavez (NM); Representative John A. Blatnik (MN); Representative George H. Fallon (MD); Senator Maureen B. Newberger (OR), who received one of the pens used by the President; Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon; Under Secretary for Transportation Clarence D. Martin, Jr.; Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges; Representative James C. Auchincloss (NJ); Representative William C. Cramer (FL); and Administrator Rex Whitton behind Representative Cramer.
1977 The FHWA Regulation Reduction Red Tape Task Force presents its study and recommendations to Administrator William Cox, Deputy Administrator Karl Bowers, and Executive Director Lester Lamm.
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