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."
- U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
- Learn more about the history of the Federal Highway Administration, the laws that shaped the Federal-Aid Legislation, and the Interstate System on the FHWA website.
- Visit the U.S. Government Publishing Office’s online bookstore to purchase a copy of the 2017 FHWA report, “Funding Federal-Aid Highways,” as well as other publications from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
- Search govinfo for more government documents related to the Federal-Aid Highway Act.