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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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December 1
1902 Representative Walter P. Brownlow of Tennessee introduces a bill in the House of Representatives to create a "Bureau of Public Roads" and provide for a system of national, State, and local cooperation in a $20-million program for the permanent improvement of the public highways. The bill resulted from a chance meeting between Brownlow and an acquaintance, OPRI's M. O. Eldridge, on a train trip to Washington, DC. Inspired by the view outside the train window, they began discussing the deplorable condition of the Nation's roads. When Brownlow asked Eldridge to draft a bill based on New Jersey's State-aid law, Eldridge did so with the approval of Director Martin Dodge. The bill sparks controversy, but is not approved. Eldridge worked behind the scenes to support the bill (at one point sending out a million copies of Brownlow's floor speech, printed at government expense and mailed under the government frank of supportive congressmen) but when he is found to be the source of the lobbying campaign, he is dismissed from service. He was later reinstated at lower pay and loss of his rank as second in command of the OPRI.
Photo: Walter P. Brownlow
Walter P. Brownlow
Member of Congress from Tennessee
1992 FHWA sponsors the first meeting of the Scenic Byways Advisory Committee required by ISTEA. The committee's functions include developing recommendations regarding minimum criteria for use by State and Federal agencies in designating highways as National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads as part of a National Scenic Byways Program. Kevin E. Heanue, Director of the Office of Environment and Planning, serves as Chairman while Scenic Byways Program Manager Eugene Johnson assists the committee in its work. (See April 6, 1994.)
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