Celebrating 80 Years of Better Roads
Better Roads Staff
President Eisenhower’s program
It was reported in the August issue that the Eisenhower administration proposed a $50 billion, 10-year program to fund highways, an amount that would be in addition to the federal-aid bill funding.
Presented by Vice President Richard Nixon at the annual Governor’s Conference, the program consists of four major parts:
1) “A master plan for a highway system…with fast and safe transcontinental travel, intercity communication…and elimination of metropolitan area congestion.”
2) “Financing based on self-liquidation of each project” with funding through tolls, increased gas taxes or increased federal funds.”
3) “A cooperative alliance between the federal government and the states, so the local governments will be the managers in their areas.”
4) “A program initiated by the federal government with state cooperation, for planning and construction of a modern interstate highway system,” a 40,000 mile national network.
Eisenhower appointed “a cabinet committee to help formulate a comprehensive transportation policy for the nation.”
Note: Mr. C.M Nelson, editor of Better Roads starting with its first issue published in October 1931, passed away in September 1954. One of the nation’s road and bridge opinion leaders, Mr. Nelson died before he could realize the greatness of the interstate program, which he championed.
The problem of funding
With the death of C.M. Nelson, it was months before a new editor would be appointed. With so little detail about the Eisenhower plan, it was several months before Better Roads provided meaningful commentary.
In a March 1955 editorial, newly appointed editor Gerald C. Ward, somewhat skeptical about the program’s funding mechanisms, said about the Interstate Program…
“A dream—a wonderful dream. But probably just that. The problem of money will undoubtedly spoil this dream.…In the end, the solution of the highway problem lies in the hands of those who would benefit most from an adequate network of roads and streets—the users. If…(we) can convince the ordinary highway user that in the long run he will pay less for good highways than he does now for bad ones, the money will be there and the dream realized.”
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