Important Highway Acts Prior to 1956


The Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916

  • Establishment of the Federal-aid Highway Program
  • Established Federal-State relationships that required states to create state highway agencies (if they had not already done so) and adopt a federal-aid concept instead of federal construction

The Federal Highway Act of 1921

  • First time the federal government was actively involved in maintaining a national highway system
  • No more than 7% of the roads in any state allowed
  • Three-sevenths had to be "interstate in character"
  • Senator Lawrence C. Phipps sponsored the act

Highway Act of 1934

  • Revised eligibility requirements of states for federal highway funding: states had to restrict their expenditures of taxes related to "the construction, improvement, and maintenance of highways"

Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1936

  • Dictated how funding would work (at the time) according to a formula taking into account average population and existing road mileage

Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944

  • Authorized designation of 40,000 miles of interstate highways connecting all cities with populations above 300,000
  • Slow construction pace (started in 1947) due to states not being able to reach consensus on funding, priorities and design

Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952

  • $25 million from federal government authorized, but not enough for a good system
  • Still disagreements between states and federal government on whether their priorities should be based upon population, distance, etc.)