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A Look at the History of the Federal Highway Administration
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December 15
1924 In Washington, DC, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover convenes the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety, the first national effort to minimize injuries and loss of life from traffic accidents--22,600 deaths in 1923 and 678,000 personal injuries, representing an economic loss of $600 million. Over 900 representatives of municipal and State police departments, automobile, educational, and civic associations participate. Chief Thomas MacDonald, Herbert Fairbank, A. T. Goldbeck, and E. W. James represent BPR.
"It is fitting and proper that the public officials, the transportation interests, the business interests, the motorists, and those engaged in the business of alleviating suffering should gather together to assist in straightening out the tangle."
The Honorable Herbert Hoover
Secretary of Commerce
December 15, 1924

1967 The U.S. 35 Silver Bridge between Point Pleasant, WV, and Gallipolis, OH, collapses at approximately 5 p.m., killing 46 people and injuring 9 when 31 of the 37 vehicles on the bridge fall into the Ohio River or onto the Ohio shore. The collapse, the first major collapse since the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed on November 7, 1940, prompts national concern about bridge conditions and leads to the establishment of the National Bridge Inspection Standards under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 and the Special Bridge Replacement Program under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970.
The U.S. 35 Silver Bridge, completed in 1928 (top) and following its collapse, a view from the Ohio side.
1969 The Silver Memorial Bridge opens at Henderson, WV, replacing the Silver Bridge, which collapsed 2 years ago to the day. Administrator Frank Turner comments on efforts to ensure the lessons learned prevent future tragedies: "Involved are complex secrets of the physical sciences not yet completely understood and thus not readily detectable. But within your government, dedicated men and women are seeking the answers to these and many other problems . . . . When we build upon tragedy . . . and find new solutions to increase safety for others, we then can perhaps find small consolation that such a loss has not been in vain. It is really this effort which we dedicate here today."
1988 At a press conference sponsored by The Road Information Program, former Administrators Ray Barnhart, John Hassell, Norbert Tiemann, and Frank Turner join in denouncing a proposed gasoline tax increase for deficit cutting. Hassell says the plan, if adopted, "would only exacerbate the dilemma facing our nation's surface transportation system." Barnhart says, "It is blatantly discriminatory to single-out motorists from the entire population to bear the brunt of deficit reduction."
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