Ike's Highway Program
11 vol apple.ve of Ike's pnipused
ten-vear bishwa) building program?
• • •
\s iisiieel. let's answer lln- question
from two opposite points of view.
taking first the arguments of wbk
who sji, YF.S.
From the beginning of our nation's
history, the federal governmenl has
been interested in national highways
and other transportation.
George' Washington, for example, envisioned the penetration of lhe forests
thai lav between the Atlantic seaboard
and the Ohio \ alley, and he supported
recommendations for public improvement of post roads.
.Jefferson, too, favored improvements
in transportation. As early as 1806 the
federal government aided financially in
the construction of the "Cumberland
lb..nl. stretching from the Last Coast
to the Ohio. Lack of funds, however.
prohibited further governmenl participation in road building.1
During the next forty years, the (aim
berland Road was extended to Jefferson
City, Missouri, at a cost eif approximately six million dollars in federal
In 1829 lhe first steam locomotive
in thc I nited States was given a trial
run. and tin- railroad dominated transportation fur the rest of the century.
Highways wen- merely dirt rueids. used
■ inly by a few travelers and for hauling freight to railroad junctions.2
I In- good-roads movemenl became' ee
major issue with lln- coming of the
automobile, which revolutionized the
American way of life
In 1912. >500,000 wa- appropriated
hy ihe federal governmenl to pay one-
third of ihe cosi of improving roads
over which lhe mails were carried.'
In thi- senile year, Congress instituted
a sludy nf lhe highway problem. This
stud) was completed in 1915 and served
ei- the' basis feer tin- Federal Road Act
nf 1916. tlie real beginning of the federal road-aid program as we know it
Lv this acl the- federal governmenl
was empowered tu grant assistance' to
lb. states Im inail construction. Tee be'
eligible for such assistance, the states
hail lo sel up highway agencies eiml
match tin' federal funds with an equal
amount of state funds.1
Encouraged bv this federal interest
ami assistance, the states sel up large
road construction programs. In the
1920's. ihe main effort was in do something fur the mud-bound fanners.
Vehicles moved slowl) the average'
speed weis twenty-six iniles em hour—
and traffic congestion was unknown,
lhe main objective nf highway builders was lo e,.| lb.' country OUt of the
mud. anil they sacrificed belter future
planning for quantity building of narrow, ungraded highways. These 1920
standards for roads were' not raised during the 1930's, because of the depression
years with their accent nn maximum on-
ihe-joh labor and lhe minimum use "'
materials and equipment.3
MODEL-T ROADS FOR SUPERCARS
We are, in fact, slill using highway8
built for the Model-T, and thev eif
deathtraps for toeleiv's superautomobiles.
In 1025 there' we're- twenty million
motor vehicles on our roads ami streets.
liv 1930, the number nl" motor vehicle*
heul increased beyond all expectation*
ami every bighwa) became a raceway'
Trucks became eis large as freight cars.
I n.lei the strain nf numbers, weigh'-
and Speed, the nhl mails were w.'eiru1
nul ami costing I.... much to maintain.
World Wen II interrupted lb.' steps
being leiki'ii In snlve- lhe' highweiv problem. Civilian travel was limited b) gas0-
line- rationing. Manufacture ..I "''"
vehicles ami tires was nil off. The hi?'1'
ways we're- called on in earr) hug'
quantities of war go.eel-. Millim'"
streamed onto lln- highways to commuf
each day In work eil disleml weir plant*
l!v the time the wen Wei- nveT. I"'
loll iii damaged, neglected roads ^^
heavy. And lhe normal program °
replacement eiml improvemenl was o<
layeil bei years because ..I high \"'"'".
eiml shortages uf materials, men. am
Within a year after World War U-
peacetime traffic bail broken all I"'
war records. Hut mail building I"''
»rams did not gel going until
Driving a ear became ei peacetime batu
on roads lhal wen ahead) ancient.
facts FOKUM NEWS, !/»//■ '■"■'"'
"r our n
111 'M oui