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Also in December
1893 Colonel Albert A. Pope, a bicycle manufacturer and one of the leaders of the Good Roads Movement since its inception, submits a petition to President Grover Cleveland with 150,000 signatures in support of an independent road department to promote and teach good road building techniques, to display a permanent exhibit on road building methods, and prepare a road exhibit for the World's Columbia Exposition. (Submission of the petition had been delayed, mainly to avoid conflict with consideration of the $10,000 appropriation for ORI, until after the exposition had closed). The petitions were taped together and wound onto two large wooden spools with a rolling mechanism. The entire structure, which measures 67" X 40" X 39", is one of the largest petitions ever submitted to the Federal Government and is now part of the National Archives' collection. In February 1989, the National Archives included the petition in an exhibit called "American Voices: 200 Years of Speaking Out," which ran through February 1990. A review of the exhibit mentioned the good roads petition, noting that, "Despite all that trouble, the petitioners did not get what they wanted."
Photo: Colonel Albert A. Pope
Colonel Albert A. Pope
Photo: Petition calling for the establishment of a highway agency as displayed at the National Archives in 1989 exhibit.
Petition calling for the establishment of a highway agency as displayed at the National Archives in 1989 exhibit.
1900 A laboratory for testing of road materials is established under Logan Page as part of the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Chemistry, with three permanent assistants and one temporary assistant. Any U.S. citizen interested in the construction of public highways can have road materials tested free of charge. By the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 1901), about 100 samples of rock had been received for testing and applications for tests were steadily increasing. Most of the machinery and appliances had to be specially built for the laboratory. They were designed by Page. The laboratory is transferred to the Office of Public Roads upon its creation in 1905, at the same time Page became Director.
1918 During the first week of December, Director Logan Page is in Denver, CO, for several days of conferences with BPR's western district engineers. He also meets with western State highway officials and representatives of the Forest Service. While in Denver, he addresses the Civic and Commercial Association. He says he is unalterably opposed to permitting motor trucks to use roads not designed to carry the load. "It is unfair, unjust, to expect the taxpayer to pay for roads, then stand by and see them torn to pieces by commercial vehicles operated for the profit of the individual." He then left for AASHO's annual meeting in Chicago, IL. (See December 9, 1918.)
1940 The Secretary of War appoints a Highway Traffic Advisory Committee composed of Commissioner Thomas MacDonald and the presidents of AASHO, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The goal is to promote better use of existing highways and mass transit until highway access to defense-related facilities can be improved. Under local action plans developed with State highway officials, widespread staggered working hours programs reduce traffic peaks by 10 to 15 percent and increase use of buses, streetcars, and carpools. Walking to work is encouraged, but few workers would walk if the one-way distance was more than 2 miles.
1994 The 40th anniversary issue of American Heritage magazine (December 1994) lists 10 "Agents of Change" during the magazine's lifespan (1954-1994)--people "who changed the way you live ([but] you've never heard of any of them)." Phil Patton's article identifies former Administrator Frank Turner as one of the agents because he "shaped the creation of the largest public-works project in the history of the world, the network of interstate highways that changed the country subtly as much as the transcontinental railroad did overtly." Today, Patton points out, "the interstates' benefits are so taken for granted as to be beneath the level of consciousness. And there is testimony to their power in the contemporary metaphor for the latest infrastructure dream: information superhighway." by the Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974, aimed at promoting bicycling as a viable surface transportation alternative. The funds, which may be used to construct bicycle facilities in urban areas, are intended to supplement funds already available for bicycle projects under the regular Federal-aid highway program. Administrator Norbert Tiemann says that, "Such projects, when implemented in large scale, will help to reduce problems of urban congestion, air and noise pollution, and energy consumption."
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