In 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower started his presidency term. He kept his focus on the modification to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944’s funding issue. Congress passed his revision as the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, with the biggest adjustment to the funding. It settled the issue of who should pay and how to have a self-supporting system. Eisenhower created the Highway Trust Fund, a foundation to secure the use of the funds solely on the highway construction. The budget was increased to $26 billion budget, half was given to urban roads and rural area roads were given only enough money for primary (interstate) highways and secondary (main roads) highways, all other streets had to be handled by the local governments. Many people worried the new budget would cause a deficit in the US Treasury, but the self-supporting highway system proved then wrong. It was successful. A tax on all automobile related sales and a gas-tax “guaranteed construction of all segments of the system on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.”1
Another issue stood needing a resolution; to which highways give attention to. The location of the highways rested on the authority of the traffic flow data and local state sovereignty, all made by federal engineers. The Interstate Highway System “turned the 1944 Act’s highway network from a theoretical plan into a steel-and-concrete reality.”2 It served to change the time and distance ratio and the unit cost for travel. The great level of success from the 1956 Act was the resolution the nation needed for its development of the Interstate Highway System through funding. Credited to its success are Eisenhower’s studies on self-supporting highway networks.
1The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense. University of Mary Washington Library, www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/routefinder, 2009.
2 Gutfreud, Owen D. Twentieth-Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape. New York; Oxford Press, 2004, (55).
Kansas Department of Transportation, “The System,” 2006. March 2009, <http://www.ksdot.org/interstate50th>.