Celebrating 80 Years of Better Roads
Better Roads Staff
Optimism for the New Year
In December 1955, after months of ongoing debate about the Interstate Program, not IF it would happen, but WHEN and HOW it would be put in place, Editor Ward writes….
“The year, 1955, should end for highway officials on an optimistic note. Never before has there been such a widespread recognition of need to bring the 40,000-mile interstate highway system up to adequate standards as quickly as possible. Never before has the importance of all highway systems—state, county and local—been brought so strongly to the attention of the public.”
June 29, 1956
President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 29, 1956, signs the bill that provides the United States with its most extensive highway program ever, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956! The bill provided the means to construct the interstate highway system and created the Highway Trust Fund.
Changing highway picture
In the July 1956 issue of Better Roads, just days after the President signed the bill, Editor Gerald Ward, in his monthly editorial, wrote the following:
“An expanded national highway program is now a part of the law of the land. At all levels of government the highway picture will be changed. This is the time for cooperation.”
The1960s presented turbulent times. It was a decade of political and social change with events that would shape the nation and the world for many years to come; Vietnam, the assassination of the Kennedy’s, Dr. Martin Luther King, the passage of the Civil Right Bill, the first manned trip to the moon, and more.
For the highway industry, it was the decade of mobility.
It was a time of great technological transition, too, as computers were coming into primary usage in mainstream businesses, and engineering innovations in building roads and bridges, and in equipment and trucks was moving rapidly.
It was a time when all of the pieces to the road-building puzzle were put into place with the start of the great Interstate project, which began in 1956 coming to an end in the mid-sixties.
Feeder and secondary roads supporting the Interstate were being built and maintained during the decade, and the era of the mammoth earthmoving machines, and innovative paving equipment and techniques came into being.
The move from city to suburb and the migration west
The 1960s were a decade of great mobility with steady migration from the cities to the suburbs, and from east to west.
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