Celebrating 80 Years of Better Roads
Better Roads Staff
The governor said that “we (once) felt that new highways were the answer to our transportation problems. We were wrong. We need a more balanced system of transportation.”
Interstate progress…from the April 1970 issue
Better Roads reported on the progress of the interstate program, which was to be completed by June 30, 1970.
Citing massive delays in projects and inadequate funding for projects engineered 15 to 20 years prior, it was reported that “As of December 31, 1969, almost 29,640 miles of the 42,500-mile national system of interstate and defense highways were open to traffic and construction was under way on another 4,782 miles.”
It would be six years before the core interstate roads would be completed.
What next Mr. President…
Newly appointed Better Roads Editor Frank Reid took a shot at the Nixon Administration for diverting as much as half of the highway trust fund to mass transit.
In an editorial in the April 1973 issue, Reid wrote, “Once again, Mr. Nixon, we find ‘Alice in Wonderland’ thinking running rampant in your Federal Highway Administration. Evidentially charged with supporting your raid on the Highway Trust Fund, they have come up with a new twist…The Trust Fund is not really a trust. Why not? Because a long while ago, before 1956, that is, no trust fund existed and there was a gas tax! Not only was the gas tax not earmarked, it went directly into the General Fund.”
“Perhaps if every highway department would send the White House pictures of the accidents that have occurred on roads and streets that have been designated for improvement and haven’t been improved due to fund impoundment, perhaps then, Mr. President, some understanding of the great need for the Trust Fund to be honored might be generated.”
In the January 1975 issue, it was reported that “thousands of state, county, city and municipal highway engineers, officials and contractors will be among the nearly 100,000 persons expected to attend Conexpo 75, the biggest world-wide heavy equipment exposition during its run from February 9 to 14 in Chicago.”
“The ‘World’s Fair of the Construction Industry’ will fill more than two million square feet of space available at McCormick Place (in Chicago) and the International Amphitheatre….”
“Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley has proclaimed the week of February 9-14, 1975 as Construction Equipment Week in Chicago…”
“Notables from more than 100 countries, including Soviet Russia are going to be in attendance.”
Special Mention….most amusing items of the decade
Among the most amusing items appearing in Better Roads during the 1970s, here are a few standouts.
No Baloney: “About the time you get to thinking that all of the ideas for ribbon-cutting ceremonies have been used up, someone comes up with another one. The one used in Michigan last November may not have been the best, but it certainly was the wurst—a 14-ft. chain of bratwurst, knockwurst, metwurst, and braunschweiger, which was stretched across Michigan Route 83 in downtown Frankenmuth,” a town founded by Bavarian Germans. The “ribbon” was cut using a 25-pound meat cleaver during a ceremony marking completion of a million-dollar improvement of the highway.
Buggy Road: “The Amish community of Reno County, Kansas has petitioned the county commissioner to set aside a road to accommodate the horse and buggy,” as automobiles have been going at faster speeds, scaring the horses.”
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