Anniversary of the Federal Highway Act of 1956

Featured Content June 29, 2018 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 creating the United States Interstate System


On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 (70 Stat. 374) (PDF). This act would be the biggest public works project in the nation's history.

"Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of inter-connected highways criss-crossing the Country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south.
Together, the uniting forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear – United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts."


Timeline Source: Federal Highway Administration

  • 1930’s - Planning began for the Interstate System. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938 called on the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), the predecessor of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), to study the feasibility of a toll-financed system of three east-west and three north-south superhighways.

  • 1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed a National Interregional Highway Committee to evaluate the need for a national expressway system.

  • 1944 – The Federal Highway Act of 1944, calls for designation of a National System of Interstate Highways, to include up to 40,000 miles.

  • 1947 – The first 37,700 miles of routes is proposed, however neither the 1944 legislation act nor later legislation in the 1940’s authorized funds for the Interstate System.

  • 1956 – The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 moved the program forward with a new method of distributing funds among the States, earning President Eisenhower the title "Father of the Interstate System."


    Legislation

    70 Stat. 374 - Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 - June 29, 1956
    PDF Details


    23 U.S.C. - HIGHWAYS
    PDF Details


    49 U.S.C. - TRANSPORTATION
    PDF Details


    Additional Resources