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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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October 1
1896 The first experimental routes for the rural free delivery of mail are established from Charles Town (home of Postmaster General William Wilson), Halltown, and Uvilla, WV. As the experiment expands, it becomes one of the most effective means of persuading farmers of the need for good roads.
1911 The Washington Herald announces a "bombshell to the automobilists of this city." Director Logan Page denounced Arthur Jackson, President of the National Good Roads Association, after the latter's announcement of a campaign to raise $1 million for good roads. "His plan," Page says, "is intended to benefit no one but himself, and the funds are to go to no one but himself." Post-office inspectors are already on Jackson's trail "and are making determined efforts to run him down."
1962 "David Brinkley's Journal" on NBC-TV includes an interview with Administrator Rex Whitton in a highly critical report on allegations of corruption in the highway program. The program prompts rebuttals by Members of Congress, the highway community, and Whitton. An ARBA petition to the FCC requests an investigation of the "vicious attack on the integrity of highway officials and the highway industry." In a letter to NBC, AASHO defends Whitton as "a Christian gentleman, a fine engineer, and a very effective Administrator." It adds that, "He is not an effective public speaker, especially when having to field loaded surprise questions."
1964 Lawrence Jones is sworn in as the second Deputy Administrator (not counting Acting Deputy Administrator Lowell Bridwell). A lawyer, Jones had practiced law in Texas and served as Assistant Attorney General of Texas, General Counsel of the Maritime Administration, and the USDOT's Deputy General Counsel.
1998 Administrator Kenneth Wykle begins phase one of FHWA restructuring. The first phase, which involves asking employees to identify their interest in a lateral reassignment, ends on December 14. As of that date, 231 employees had accepted laterals. Later phases included restructuring of headquarters into five core business units and eight cross-cutting service units (February 1999), advertising vacant positions (February 1999), and completing headquarters shifts (by July 1, 1999).
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