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Contributions and Crossroads

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Contributions and Crossroads: Our National Road System’s Impact on the U.S. Economy and Way of Life (1916-2016)

Image: Period cars and a truck travel down a concrete road.
Carl Rakeman, an artist with the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), illustrated the Lincoln Highway. The painting shows concrete paving that was completed in December 1922. FHWA

In 1916, Congress passed the Federal-aid Road Act, which created the Federal-aid highway program. It was the first federal legislation that appropriated significant funding to improve and expand the country's road system. For decades to follow, the Federal-aid highway program would support state and local efforts to design and build one of the best transportation systems in the world.

During the past century, the United States' transportation system has had a significant impact on the growth of the economy, the expansion of towns and cities and has increased mobility and access for people nationwide by providing a safe, interconnected and efficient means of travel.


For more history about America's roads visit the FHWA Highway History site.

The Contributions and Crossroads report is a product of the FHWA Office of Transportation Policy Studies.

To view PDF files, you can use the Adobe® Reader®.

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