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November 1

1909 An OPR engineer and photographer leave Washington, DC, for an extended tour (through January 8, 1910) to collect information for use in reporting the results of object lesson and experimental projects and for illustrating contemplated publications.
1916 To implement the Federal Aid Road Act, OPRRE reorganizes, with two main branches (Engineering under P. St. J. Wilson and Management and Economics under J. E. Pennybacker, Jr.) and two general inspectors, T. Warren Allen and E. W. James. Engineering's Highway Construction and Maintenance Section will have charge of forest road work under Section 8 of the Act.
Photo: Edwin W.
Edwin W. "E.W." James
General Inspector
Office of Public Roads and Rural Engineering
1923 The work of designating the 7-percent Federal-aid system is completed in accordance with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1921. The original system consists of 168,881 miles. Based on certifications submitted by the State highway agencies, total road mileage amounts to 2,866,061 miles; thus the 7-percent system may include up to 200,624 miles.

November 2

1915 The Southern National Highway Association, sponsor of a highway from Washington, DC, to San Diego, CA, dispatches a group for the first official trip over its entire route. Engineer B. H. Burrell represents OPRRE on the 26-day trip.
1959 The first Joint BPR-State Right-of-Way Seminar is opened by C. W. Phillips, Chief of the Right-of-Way Division. All BPR region and division right-of-way personnel and utility engineers from Regions 4 and 5, as well as members of the Headquarters Right-of-Way Division attend. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of the many right-of-way acquisition problems being experienced.
1962 A 5-mile section of the Jones Falls Expressway, part of I-83 in Baltimore City and County, MD, opens, enabling motorists to drive nonstop from the center of Baltimore to Harrisburg, PA. BPR Division Engineer E. F. Gleason joins State and local officials who wield mammoth shears to snip the ribbon opening the highway. U.S. Representative George Fallon of Maryland, one of the sponsors of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, attends the ceremony.
Photo: Ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) in Baltimore, MD
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies on the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) in Baltimore, MD. Wielding the shears are, left to right, E.F. Gleason, BPR's Division Engineer; Mayor J. Harold Grady; Governor J. Millard Tawes (in light coat); and G. Victor Walters, State Highway Engineer for Baltimore. Holding the ribbon with his left hand is Maryland Comptroller Louis Goldstien. At the extreme left is U.S. Representative George Fallon (in light coat).
1971 Secretary of Transportation John Volpe announces approval of the first 34 economic growth centers (in 16 States) under a program created by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1970. The program provides additional funds for improvement of FAP roads to serve selected growth centers.
"We hope this demonstration program will show that highway investments can help in checking or slowing down the present migration of people to larger and more congested areas."
The Honorable John A. Volpe
Secretary of Transportation
November 2, 1971

November 3

1949 At the Statler Hotel in Washington, DC, Commissioner Thomas MacDonald addresses the American Society of Civil Engineers on "The National System of Interstate Highways." He notes that, "Public dissatisfaction over highway inadequacies, traffic congestion, and accidents has prompted a marked increase in the planning and construction of major highway facilities, both rural and urban, that will form links in the Interstate System. During the past 2 years, progress in initiating and planning wide and safe rural highways and urban expressways has been at a greater rate than ever before."

November 4

1918 Having in mind the return of soldiers from World War I, Director Logan Page writes to the State highway departments on the Secretary of Agriculture's behalf, to ask for the number of returned soldiers who may be employed on road repair, construction, and maintenance as carpenters, masons, stationary engineers, roller-men, and quarry bosses, among other positions.
1959 Administrator Bertram Tallamy is a speaker at the dedication of a 7-mile segment of I-93 from Concord, NH, to the Vermont line (named the Senator Styles Bridges Highway). New Hampshire State Highway Commissioner John O. Morton, US Senators Styles Bridges and Norris Cotton, and Governor Wesley Powell also speak. A motorcade of 300 cars drives over the new highway after the ribbon cutting by Mrs. Styles Bridges. (During Tallamy's address, he mentions that one of the pleasures of coming to New England is Indian pudding. The next day the hostess congratulates him on his honesty--because he had indeed ordered Indian pudding.
1968 The Board of Directors of the American Concrete Institute approves presentation of the Charles S. Whitney Award to BPR's Bridge Division and its former Chief, Eric L. Erickson, "for distinguished contributions to development of concrete bridge design and construction."

November 5

1935 The last unpaved gap in U.S. 30 is closed in Nebraska--the first paved transcontinental highway. In a November 1 letter to planners of the celebration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt says, "With full appreciation of the manifold benefits of this modern avenue of communication, it is especially gratifying to recall that its construction has been a part of the great program of highway building that has given needed employment in recent years to hundreds of thousands of our citizens."
"The perilous trail of the pioneers is at last transformed, by joint efforts of the Federal and State Governments, into a coast to coast highway."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
1955 Commissioner "Cap" Curtiss participates in opening ceremonies for the Major Deegan and Cross-Bronx Expressways, and the Queens Mid-Town Connection to the Horace Harding Expressway in New York City. Division Engineer C. E. Swain, District Engineer K. B. Foster, and Area Engineer J. P. McAllaster also represent BPR.
1993 At the University of Hartford in Connecticut, Deputy Secretary Mortimer Downey and a USDOT team including FHWA Deputy Administrator Jane Garvey conduct the first of a nationwide series of meetings on ISTEA implementation. About 100 State and local officials, business leaders, planners, and citizens from New England participate. Regional Administrator J. G. Bestgen, Jr., and Connecticut Division Administrator Gary Hamby represent Region 1.

November 6

1924 Contractors Tenney and Hamblin begin construction of the last 17.75 miles of the 89.9-mile forest portion of the 124-mile Clifton-Springerville road through the Apache National Forest in Arizona. Built by BPR with Forest Service funds, the project was approved in 1916. Location surveys were completed in 1917 (April 1 to October 29), with an adjustment made in 1922. The completed highway, called the Coronado Trail, is dedicated on June 29, 1926, during a ceremony at Hannagan's Meadow. District Engineer C. M. Morrison represents BPR. Entertainment includes a barbecue of ten beeves and two bears, and the "Devil Dance" by Apache Indians from the White Mountain Indian Reservation. In 1926, the Coronado Trail is designated part of U.S. 666, a designation it retains until June 1992, when AASHTO approves a State request to renumber the route U.S. 191.
1974 FHWA announces that its research office has developed a nuclear cement content gage that will, for the first time, give engineers an on-site capability to accurately measure the cement content of fresh concrete. (The gage uses low energy gamma rays from a radioactive source.)
1991 Secretary of Transportation Samuel Skinner presents a WAY TO GO award to the entire staff of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center for its year-long effort to enhance the center's laboratories and technical capability. Associate Administrator for Research and Development Charles Miller accepts the award on behalf of the center's staff.

November 7

1940 In Washington State, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses in high wind, only 4 months after opening. The way the suspension bridge twisted and heaved prior to collapse earns it the posthumous nickname "Galloping Gertie." PRA joined with other experts in research that led to the improvement of future suspension bridges, including the Mackinac and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges.
Photo: The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge under construction.
The "first" Tacoma Narrows Bridge under construction.
1963 BPR participates in a meeting at Arizona Highway Patrol headquarters on making U.S. 66--nicknamed "Bloody 66"--safer between Chicago and Los Angeles. The meeting, which includes chiefs of traffic law enforcement agencies in the States through which U.S. 66 passes, is a prelude to stepped up enforcement under "Project 66."

November 8

1949 PRA, with the assistance of the Advisory Committee on Motor Vehicle Brake Research, launches the first of a series of brake-test studies on U.S. 40 southwest of Elkton, MD, designed to measure the minimum stopping distance. Cars and trucks stopped at random are weighed and subjected to three emergency stops from a speed of 20 m.p.h. Tests will run until December 1.
1960 In a memo to BPR Commissioner Ellis L. Armstrong, M. F. "Pat" Maloney comments on a September 15 Engineering News-Record article on urban Interstate controversies. "In many instances, [planning groups have] been unable to do anything more than 'crystal-gaze,' having no means of implementing their plans with action . . . . Often their work has not been realistically accomplished and they defend themselves by yelling 'foul' at the highway profession."
"There is no question that a need exists for more cooperative action in urban planning--the fault does not lie on the side of the highway engineer, or entirely on the side of the planning groups."
Ellis L. Armstrong
Commissioner, BPR
November 8, 1960

November 9

1921 President Warren Harding signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act, revitalizing the Federal-aid highway program by focusing funds on a system consisting of 7 percent of each State's road mileage. Three-sevenths of the system must consist of routes that are "interstate in character" and up to 60 percent of Federal funds can be spent on this portion. (See November 1, 1923.) Chief Thomas MacDonald and AASHO's W. C. Markham participate in the ceremony, which is filmed because of its importance.
1921 Forty trucks, furnished by BPR, begin operating on a test pavement in Pittsburg, CA. The trucks run at a set speed and are loaded with only a moderate tonnage. As the test continues, the loads will be increased. Heavy war equipment will be used at the end of the test to give the final touch of demolition to the highway. The Pittsburg test highway, which is 1,371 feet long, includes 13 sections paved with concrete slabs ranging from 5 to 8 inches in thickness.
1966 The National Traffic Safety Bureau and the National Highway Safety Bureau, authorized by the Highway Safety Act of 1966, are established in the Department of Commerce under the direction of Dr. William Haddon, Jr. On April 1, 1967, both bureaus are transferred to the new USDOT as part of FHWA; they are consolidated by Executive order into the National Highway Safety Bureau under Dr. Haddon on June 6, 1967. The NHSB became NHTSA in March 1970.
1973 With the Nation in an energy crisis, FHWA releases tests by retired FHWA employee E. M. Cope on whether lower speed limits save gas. In the tests, fuel consumption increased by 30 percent when the speed of the test vehicles went from 50 to 70 mph.

November 10

1953 In his first address to AASHO as Commissioner of Public Roads, F. V. du Pont says he quickly found that BPR's organization "was such that the deputies did not share in the responsibilities of management nor were their efforts coordinated . . . . I felt the staff type of organization superior and immediately arranged for weekly meetings with the deputies and solicitor who, together with myself, are responsible for the formulation of policies, making decisions, etc." He notes that he had discontinued the practice of special extensions for men in top BPR positions who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 and had retained management counselors Booz, Allen, and Hamilton to conduct an unbiased study of procedures and operations.
1976 FHWA and the Canadian Department of Public Works jointly announce an agreement for reconstruction of 205 miles of the Alaska Highway and 117 miles of the Haines Cutoff Road. The agreement was negotiated under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, which authorized $58.6 million for the reconstruction. The first element of work will be an environmental impact statement.
1981 Senator William Proxmire awards his monthly "Golden Fleece Award" to the FHWA for the Interstate System, which in 1956 was estimated to run $27 billion. The citation read, for the "Worst record of civilian cost overruns in the federal government," citing a 267-percent, $100-billion cost overrun that "dwarfs any other civil project."
1992 At the Dallas/Fort Worth Hyatt Airport Hotel, Administrator Thomas Larson signs the "National Policy on the Quality of Highways," joining representatives of AASHTO, ARTBA, and the American Consulting Engineers Council, the American Concrete Pavement Association, Associated General Contractors of America, National Asphalt Pavement Association, and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, thereby launching the National Quality Initiative.
Picture, November 10
Signers of the "National Policy on the Quality of Highways"
2008 Kerry O'Hare becomes Deputy Federal Highway Administrator. Having worked for New York's U.S. Congressman Peter T. King and Governor George E. Pataki, Ms. O'Hare joined the U.S. Department of Transportation in November 2005. She was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs at the time of her appointment as Deputy Administrator. She would serve through the end of President George W. Bush's second term, January 20, 2009.

November 11

1915 Director Logan Page resigns from ARBA's Board of Directors to protest "a breach of faith" when ARBA decides to hold a separate convention after agreeing to hold a joint convention with the American Highway Association during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in Oakland, CA.
1920 The National Advisory Board on Highway Research, largely supported by BPR, is formed to "assist in outlining a comprehensive national program of highway research and coordinating activities thereunder; organize committees for specific problems; deal with ways and means; and act in a general advisory capacity." It becomes the Highway Research Board in January 1925.
Photo: Home of the Advisory Board on Highway Research
Home of the Advisory Board on Highway Research
1974 State and FHWA employees begin the first 5-day Water Quality Workshop, which was held in Dallas, TX, and conducted by the California Department of Highways, in cooperation with FHWA. The objective is to show that water-quality investigations are a major item of concern in planning transportation systems and developing the required environmental impact statements.

November 12

1892 In New York City, John Gilmer Speed interviews General Roy Stone for a newspaper article about the Good Roads Movement. Stone says, "We have the worst roads in the civilized world; their condition is a crushing tax on the whole people." Speed describes Stone as a Civil War hero, an inventor, and an engineer. "I met a handsome man of about 50--somewhat grizzled by his half century but as alert and energetic as a boy."
Photo: General Roy Stone
General Roy Stone
"A government is known by its works, and is respected or despised at home and abroad accordingly as it is capable or inefficient in the vital concerns of national life."
General Roy Stone
November 12, 1892
1910 Under direction of OPR's bridge engineer, three reinforced concrete culverts are built in Bennettsville, SC (through December 16) at a cost of $332.50 for labor alone.
1915 In a letter to The Road-Maker magazine, Director Logan Page replies to complaints by D. Ward King, inventor of the King split-log drag, regarding a new OPR bulletin on road drags: "This office strongly advocates the use of the drag on earth roads, and is using every means it has for extending its use, but when people like Mr. King advertise that they can show the public how to build roads without money, and that roads do not need drainage, merely for the purpose of [making] money out of the people, it is simply absurd."

November 13

1918 The US Highway Council completes its work of coordinating the post-World War I movement of roadbuilding materials.
1960 The Georgia Division Office is damaged extensively in a three-alarm fire that starts between the ceiling of the third floor of the building and the roof. The office is gutted and hundreds of blueprints of present and completed projects are destroyed. The Division obtains temporary quarters at 900 Peachtree Street, adjacent to the Region 3 office.
1972 FHWA announces a new policy for railroad-highway grade crossing improvements, under which the Federal share of project costs is increased and the railroads' share is reduced.
1973 AASHO's Policy Committee approves a new name, "American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials," and a broadened mission and membership to include all forms of transportation. On November 15, George H. Andrews, Director of the Washington State Highways Department, is installed as the first President of AASHTO. (The last President of AASHO was Thomas F. Airis, Director of Highways and Traffic for the District of Columbia.)

November 14

1945 Deputy Commissioner of Public Roads H. E. Hilts, District Engineer J. C. Carpenter, and the Design Division's Joseph Barnett and Wilbur H. Simonson arrive in the Virgin Islands for a 2-day inspection of road conditions on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The trip is pursuant to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944, which authorized $10 million for internal development projects. With the Islands' public works officials, they discuss the priority program and typical designs for island roads.
Photo: City street and buildings typical of Christiansted, St. Croix, VI
Original caption from repot: "City street and buildings typical of Christiansted, St. Croix, V.I. Note the school building on left with sidewalks protected by arcade."
1946 Initial technical staff arrive in Manila to establish a Division Office under the Philippine Rehabilitation Act, which had been signed April 30. It authorized PRA to improve roads damaged during World War II. A 1945 PRA mission found that 621 of the 1,741 bridges in existence before the war had been damaged or destroyed and more than a third of the country's 6,352 wooden bridges needed repair or replacement. (See December 25, 1947.)
2005 OK Division Administrator Gary Corino participates in the groundbreaking ceremony for the I-40 Crosstown to be built five blocks south of the existing Interstate in Oklahoma City. The 4-mile reconstruction of I-40 is the State's largest and most expensive project. The "Dedication for Completion" of the first phase of the project (two five-lane bridges and a railroad bridge) would be celebrated on July 5, 2007.

November 15


Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover's Conference on Unemployment takes place in Washington, DC, with special emphasis on how funds authorized by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1921 can help relieve post-World War I unemployment. Colonel James B. McCord of BPR tells the conference, "Directly and indirectly, probably 200,000 workers will be employed in state highway construction."


In northern Virginia, the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (now part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway), designed and constructed under BPR's direction, is dedicated in a ceremony held in conjunction with AASHO's Annual Meeting. Authorized by a law enacted on May 23, 1928, the memorial highway is part of the celebration in 1932 of the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. The road links his home, Mount Vernon, to the south end of the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River at Washington, DC. BPR began surveying to determine the memorial highway's location on June 15, 1928, and construction began on September 12, 1929. The highway had opened in segments, from January 1932 through May.

November 16

1909 President William Howard Taft writes to Kansas Governor Stubbs about the planned national good roads convention in Topeka. Although the President thinks the good roads question is "chiefly a state function," he adds that, "The truth is, I think, that the good roads have much to do with the use of waterways and also with the question of railway transportation, because the difficulties of getting to waterways and railways are the great burdens that the farmers have to bear."
"Next to education, the system of good roads is the greatest civilizer."
President William Howard Taft
November 16, 1909
1948 Commissioner Thomas MacDonald presents the second David Beecroft Memorial Lecture at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Washington, DC. His subject is "Driver Behavior--Key to Safe Highway Design." He says, "For too long, and in too great degree, highway design has been distorted by the tyranny of wrong concepts. Most important of these in its adverse impacts is the error of thinking of the motor vehicle as static in relation to the highway. In use, the vehicle is dynamic and takes on very different qualities."
1974 Due to recent congressional limitations on FHWA travel funds, an FHWA Family Dinner at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, site of AASHTO's Annual Meeting, is canceled.

November 17

1988 A Thanksgiving Drama: In a collision on I-35 north of Austin, TX, a truck turns on its side, allowing the escape of 78 of 2,000 turkeys bound for a processing plant in Waco. Rounding them up takes 3 hours. Only 53 survive, but their "break for freedom" creates an outpouring of public sympathy. The "favored 53" were donated to an alcohol and drug treatment center, where they took up residence near a duck pond. The center planned to serve the turkeys for Thanksgiving, but public outcry resulted in a compromise. Forty turkeys were donated to animal rights groups that promised to place the birds in homes where they could live out their lives in peace. The remaining, unlucky 13 were served for dinner.

November 18

1925 Secretary of Agriculture W. M. Jardine approves the Joint Board on Interstate Highways' plan for U.S. numbered highways and uniform signing. The Joint Board had originally identified 55,137 miles for inclusion, at which point, in the words of AASHO president and Joint Board member Frank Rogers of Michigan, "the Infernal regions began popping," as communities began lobbying for their route. The Secretary submits the plan, which now includes 75,884 miles, to AASHO to "take the necessary steps as might be feasible under their respective State laws to put the plan into operation." Under pressure from the "infernal regions," AASHO expands the U.S. system to 96,626 miles before approving the proposal on November 11, 1926.
Photo: William M. Jardine
William M. Jardine
Secretary of Agriculture

Photo: road signs

1938 While attending AAA's Annual Convention in Cleveland, OH, Chief Thomas MacDonald is interviewed for a 1:45 p.m. radio broadcast over NBC's Blue Network. Introduced by AAA President Thomas P. Henry as "an outstanding authority on highway development and highway trends," MacDonald discusses the road inventory surveys underway, noting that the information gathered will help the country adjust present roads to modern traffic conditions.
"From now on, in all our new road building we must try to look ahead at least to 1960 . . . we must try to anticipate the volume and other conditions of the 1960 traffic and make ample provision to meet those conditions in our present planning."
Thomas H. MacDonald
Chief, BPR
November 18, 1938
1957 During AASHO's Annual Meeting, BPR's Herbert S. Fairbank becomes the first recipient of the Thomas H. MacDonald Award for outstanding contributions to highway progress. U.S. Representative George Fallon, Chairman, Subcommittee on Roads, House Committee on Public Works, addresses AASHO the same day: "I think I hear practically all of the complaints that you officials live with all the time. There are those who claim the program is bogging down and want it speeded up and those who in cities would like to declare a moratorium for two or three years to provide time for urban planning; those who insist on a community bypass and those who resist the bypass; those who can never agree with those who consider the interstate ugly or 'phony' as to defense importance; those who see opportunity in doing strange and wondrous things with the Trust Fund money . . . . [Those are] some of the typical complaints and charges that I hear; actually the immensity of the program and its long-term benefits have not yet really come home to the public."
"Actually the immensity of the program and its long-term benefits have not yet really come home to the public."
Representative George Fallon
November 18, 1957
1977 For the first time in BPR/FHWA history, former Federal Highway Administrators meet with the current Administrator in an open house. Former Administrators John Volpe, Norbert Tiemann, Frank Turner, Lowell Bridwell, and Bertram Tallamy join Administrator William Cox. Commissioner "Cap" Curtiss and Administrator Rex Whitton, the other two surviving Administrators, are unable to attend.
2008 President George W. Bush visits DOT headquarters, the first time a President had visited DOT headquarters since President Ronald Reagan (see January 12, 1982). Speaking in the East Atrium, President Bush thanks Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters for her work following the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN (see August 1, 2007). "The Secretary coordinated a swift and an effective Federal response." His primary purpose is to announce new regulations to protect air travelers.

November 19

1911 The First Annual Convention of the American Association for Highway Improvement, originally scheduled for October, was shifted to November 21 so President William Howard Taft can participate. (See July 24, 1911.) However, in a letter today to Director Logan Page, President Taft indicates he has had a cold for a week, has spent the last 48 hours in "the house," and will be unable to attend. "I wish I could be present to utter my word of approval and encouragement, but I feel that the trip as planned, is one which would involve more risk than I ought to incur in my present condition."
1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Defense Highway Act, authorizing $150 million for construction of access roads certified as important to national defense by the Secretary of War or Secretary of Navy and $50 million for correction of critical deficiencies on the 78,000-mile strategic network. The Act also authorizes PRA to cooperate with the Army Air Corps in studying and constructing flight strips adjacent to public highways for the landing and take-off of aircraft ($10 million authorized). The first flight strip, on the Middle Atlantic seaboard, is completed by the end of the fiscal year. It is 8,000 feet long and more than 500 feet wide, with a runway 7,000 by 150 feet, and is usable by the Army's heaviest bombers. The program is conducted with the assistance of State highway department engineers.
1993 At Gettysburg National Military Park, Administrator Rodney Slater unveils a replica of the street marker to be placed on Stone Avenue. The avenue is along McPherson's Ridge, on which then-Colonel Roy Stone and his Pennsylvania Bucktail brigade held off the Confederate forces on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Stone was severely wounded in the battle. Although Stone Avenue was named after FHWA's founder many years ago, the sign had been missing for several years. During the ceremony, conducted on the 130th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Slater says, "General Stone was one of the many brave men President Lincoln spoke of in his Gettysburg Address when he said, 'The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.'"
Photo: Administrator Rodney E. Slater unveils replica of
Administrator Rodney E. Slater unveils replica of "Stone Avenue" sign in Gettysburg, PA.
2001 Frederick G. (Bud) Wright, Jr., becomes Executive Director, the highest career position in FHWA. He joined FHWA in 1975 as an economist and had served in a variety of positions, including Division Administrator in Nevada.

November 20

1936 Commissioner Thomas MacDonald, after a European tour, addresses a AAA luncheon in Detroit, MI, providing his impressions of Germany's Autobahn and roads in England and France. "Germany," he notes, "stands out among all the countries of Europe in the magnificent conception of a national system of major highways . . . . The highways which have been completed are wonderful examples of the best modern road building."
1942 In Canada, a ceremony at the south end of Soldiers Summit, Kluane Lake, marks completion of the pioneer trail of the Alaska Highway. Representing Canada is Ian Mackenzie, Minister of Pensions and National Health. Four U.S. soldiers--Corporal Refines Sims, Jr., Private Alfred Jalufka, Master Sergeant Andrew Doyle, and Corporal John T. Reilly--hold the ribbon, which is cut by Mackenzie and Alaska's Secretary of State, Bob Bartlett. Sims and Reilly are African-American soldiers, and their participation reflects the important contribution African-American soldiers made to the project.
"Canada provided the soil; the United States provided the toil."
The Honorable Ian Mackenzie
Canadas Minister of Pensions and National Health
Representing Prime Minister MacKenzie King
November 20, 1942
Photo: A ribbon separates Royal Canadian Mounted Police and U.S. Army troops at the dedication of the Alaska Highway.
A ribbon separates Royal Canadian Mounted Police and U.S. Army troops at the dedication of the Alaska Highway.


1943 PRA's Willis Grafe leaves Alaska on a CPA Lockheed Lodestar, headed home after 2 years of work as a surveyor on the Alaska Highway. In a memoir 50 years later, he says, "The going rate for people like me, long on enthusiasm and short on knowledge, was $1,260 per year, or $105 per month, with a temporary civil service rating of SP-2, the bottom rung of the ladder." (An Oregon Boy in the Yukon, Chesnimus Press, 1991).
1990 The final 14.5-mile link of I-15 opens near Tremonton, UT, completing the 1,437-mile route from Great Falls, MT, to San Diego, CA. During the opening ceremony, Regional Administrator Louis MacDonald reads a message from Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner, who notes that with the opening this year of the final segments of I-10, I-35, I-40, and now I-15, "1990 is the greatest year for major highway completions in the history of the interstate system." Director Eugene Findlay of the Utah Department of Transportation puts it in simpler terms: "We've done it!"

November 21

1911 In Richmond, VA, at the first American Road Congress, sponsored by the American Association for Highway Improvement, Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson tells participants, "The effect that [good roads] will have in increasing the value of farms, in making the lives of farmers and their families much more full of comfort and in the general benefit conferred by greater ease of intercommunication the country over, cannot be exaggerated." Director Logan Page addresses the congress as well: "It is necessary that a thorough campaign of education be conducted in every locality where the burden of bad roads hangs like a millstone about the necks of the people."
"In this campaign of education, three things are essential: First, that your work must have a definite object; second, that your plans must be practical; and third, that they must have intrinsic merit."
Logan Page
Director, OPR
November 21, 1911
Photo: James Wilson
James Wilson
Secretary of Agriculture


1918 1918 The Associated General Contractors of America is formed, with a membership of 97 general contractors, responding to a call of first president Daniel A. Garber, who said: "Organized [the contractor] can serve his own legitimate interests, open the gates for great prosperity, benefit the country in normal times, and serve it royally in emergencies . . . ."
1975 FHWA issues regulations to promote increased use of minority business enterprises (MBE) in Federal-aid highway activity. States must identify MBEs, ensure prime contractors using subcontractors take affirmative action to consider MBEs, and report MBE participation to FHWA quarterly.

November 22

1910 At the invitation of Director Logan Page, some 30 State and interstate organizations (highway agencies, railroads, and good roads associations encompassing the entire good roads movement) meet in Washington, DC, to form the American Association for Highway Improvement (shortened to the American Highway Association in 1912). It is intended to be an umbrella-type organization "to harmonize and correlate all efforts for the improvement of the public roads." (On October 30, 1917, the Board of Directors voted to dissolve the association.)
1917 A trailblazing party, including representatives of the Ohio Highway Department, the U.S. Army, the Lincoln Highway Association, and OPRRE, leaves Toledo, OH, for Philadelphia, PA, to ensure newly built military trucks can be driven to the port for shipment to Europe, thereby sparing railroad cars for other war duty. The route became the main military truck route during World War I.
Photo: A convoy of trucks.
A convoy of trucks fron Detroit headed for eastern seaports and action in World War I.
1930 BPR completes the last link in the Oregon Coast Highway (U.S. 101). The final construction report by R. A. Mack notes: "Nowhere else in the United States will the motorist find a highway that follows the ocean for so great a distance in such a spectacular manner."

November 23

1912 An OPR engineer and his assistant, stationed in Natchez, MS, complete their assignment of devising a road system for Adams County. Beginning August 24, they made the necessary surveys for relocation, investigated materials, designed road structures, and advised county officials on the best methods of construction, administration, and maintenance.
1920 A. T. Goldbeck and Ira B. Mullis represent BPR at a meeting of the subgrade committee of the Federal Highway Council in Wilmington, DE, under General T. Coleman Du Pont. The subject: Why highways fail. W. P. Blair of Cleveland, OH, attributes the failure to the fact that 20 million people had been added to the country, practically without 1 inch being added to transportation facilities. General Du Pont states that addressing subgrade/foundation problems is the most important duty facing highway agencies. C. M. Upham, State Highway Engineer of Delaware, describes his department's field tests to determine the bearing powers of various kinds of soil.
1963 BPR activities on reconstruction of Cambodia's 133-mile Khmer-American Friendship Highway are suspended, with approximately 30 percent of the work completed, when the Nation's Chief of State requests cessation of all aid from the United States. Negotiations result in the sale of the contractor's equipment and supplies to the government. BPR personnel remain in the country during the transfer, then close out the project in January 1964.
1967 FHWA announces that the airport access problem is being melded into the recently inaugurated TOPICS program (See February 13, 1967), in accordance with the USDOT's concept of a fully-coordinated transportation system. "No TOPICS program," according to the instructions issued today, "should be advanced beyond the planning stage unless adequate attention has been given to this high priority item." Administrator Lowell Bridwell notes that this priority is needed because, "Getting from an airport to a city's downtown sometimes takes longer than the air flight."

November 24

1901 The Southern Railway Good Roads Train arrives in Mobile, AL, and will stay through the 30th. On the 29th, Director Martin Dodge will address a convention, speaking on the "Relation of Roads to Rural Population" ("While all who live in the country must go to the city, a smaller proportion, though a greater number, with their carriages, bicycles, and automobiles, go from the city to the country."). The train got underway on October 29, 1901, in Alexandria, VA, and will conclude on April 5, 1902, in Charlottesville, VA. It will travel as far west as Tennessee and as far south as Georgia (participants took off for Christmas between December 21, 1901, and January 9, 1901). The train was initiated by Samuel Spencer, president of the Southern Railway Company, and cosponsored by the National Good Roads Association and OPRI. The first stop had been Winston-Salem, NC, reached on October 30 (an object-lesson road was constructed on North Liberty Street). (See February 13, 1902.)
Photo: The crushing plant in operation at Winston-Salem, NC., during a demonstration of macadam road building.
The crushing plant in operation at Winston-Salem, NC., during a demonstration of macadam road building.
"While without the aid of taxation we have been able to secure cheap transportation by means of the railroads, we have not obtained the cheap transportation over the common roads which we ought to have."
Martin Dodge
Director, OPRI
November 24, 1901
1906 OPR begins work on an 8,927-foot shell drive around the U.S. Naval Station in New Orleans, LA. The foundation course is of oyster shells 7 inches thick, with a 4-inch wearing surface of clam shells. Completed July 26, 1907, the road cost $14,569.23, well within the appropriation of $15,000 made for the work.
1932 The High-Level Viaduct ("Pulaski Skyway") over the New Jersey meadows on the approach to the Holland Tunnel opens. As part of a 12-month traffic census requested by the State Highway Commission, BPR includes a time study of delays, between Jersey City and Newark, before and after the viaduct opened. The study is completed in September 1933. The report indicates that the viaduct undoubtedly attracted traffic that previously had avoided the route because of congestion. "There is also every reason to believe that the traffic on the viaduct will increase during the next few years to a volume which could not have been adequately served by the old route" (Public Roads, February 1934).
1968 FHWA announces that for the first time in history, the annual motor vehicle mileage rolled up on the Nation's highways will top the one trillion mark. To make the figure more understandable, FHWA's E. M. Cope points out that one trillion miles would equal 40,400,000 trips around the world at the Equator.
1978 As part of USDOT's anti-inflation fight, Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams instructs FHWA's field offices to work closely with State highway agencies to ensure that every aspect of the Federal-aid construction program is examined for potential cost-reduction methods. In particular, he asks them to re-examine all projects where bids exceed original cost estimates by 7 percent to determine if they should be modified or reissued.

November 25

1963 "Our 41,000 Mile Superhighway" by Administrator Rex Whitton appears in Sunday newspapers read by over 8 million families, placing the Interstate System in perspective as one of the country's great capital assets benefiting the business community and the American public. The article, the Administrator's first-hand account of the progress of the Interstate Highway Program, is accompanied in most papers by photographs of an Interstate highway, a map of the entire System, and a statement from Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges. The January 1963 issue of The News in Public Roads observes that the coverage of the article is "an indication of the widespread interest of newspapers in the Interstate program."
Promotion of the Interstate System -- With Administrator Rex Whitton looking on, Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges opens "Highways, U.S.A.," an exhibit in the Department of Commerce Building lobby, marking 5 years of Interstate construction (1956-1961).
Promotion of the Interstate System -- With Administrator Rex Whitton looking on, Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges opens "Highways, U.S.A.," an exhibit in the Department of Commerce Building lobby, marking 5 years of Interstate construction (1956-1961).

November 26

1968 Administrator Lowell Bridwell issues a Notice of Request for Comments on technical, economic, and social issues that would be raised if safety performance standards were established for used vehicles. Safety standards for new cars (in effect since January 1, 1968) and used cars are required by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. The request seeks comments on appropriate performance requirements, feasible and effective means for enforcing standards, costs associated with the standards, and the feasibility of adapting any existing standards for proposed Federal used vehicle standards. Dr. William Haddon, Jr., Director of FHWA's National Highway Safety Bureau, says that standards will be of interest to all potential victims of poorly maintained vehicles. The problem "will require effective safety performance standards for used cars and a strong enforcement program through periodic State vehicle inspection."

November 27

1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt's message to Congress protests that the normal contract authority practice of advance authorization under the Federal-aid highway program "ties the hands of the Executive" and should be abandoned. Senator Carl Hayden responds that tying the hands of the Executive was "exactly what the Congress intended to do."
1956 At AASHO's Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, NJ, the George S. Bartlett Award is presented to Pyke Johnson of the Automotive Safety Foundation. The presenter, G. Donald Kennedy of the Portland Cement Association, says that Johnson's close friend, Thomas MacDonald, now retired, would have attended "except for a recent bout with pneumonia and a heart impairment which his doctor said should not be exposed to the emotion of this occasion." MacDonald's prepared statement, his first for AASHO since his retirement, states: "Now that the idea that Mr. Johnson and his associates have so vigorously and courageously championed--the State-Federal plan of action--has attained a maturity of unchallenged excellence, their faith has been justified."
"Not only is [the Federal-aid] plan endowed with the essence of the principles underlying the American Constitution, it is the only plan that has a chance to meet successfully the road problems of the future. The State and Federal highway departments have a heritage to protect and to enhance which has withstood the test of time and has proved not wanting."
Thomas H. MacDonald
Former Commissioner, BPR
November 27, 1956
1968 Administrator Lowell Bridwell presents the First Annual Administrator's Award to 10 Headquarters employees: Deputy Director Edgar H. Swick; Chief Counsel Howard A. Heffron; Richard S. Salzman, Chief, Legislative Division; James E. Wilson, Deputy Director of Highway Safety Programs Services, NHSB; Daniel W. Fulmer, Director of Traffic Safety Secretariat, NHSB; Charles W. Prisk, Deputy Director for Safety; Kenneth L. Pierson, Special Assistant to the Director of BMCS; Joan B. Claybrook, Special Assistant to the Director, NHSB; Librarian Mildred W. Helvestine; and Director of Public Affairs Albert B. Kelley.

November 28

1917 Director Logan Page writes to the State highway commissioners seeking their help in reorganizing road work to meet normal needs plus relieve strain on railroads overburdened by military demands since the country entered World War I on April 6, 1917. He proposes a national road program, from which the highest priority projects would be advanced; coordination with railway and waterway facilities; coordination with the materials industry; and adjustment of State contracting procedures to meet needs.
1943 In a speech to HRB's 23rd Annual Meeting, Associate Highway Engineer D. W. Loutzenheiser of PRA discusses "Design of Signs for the Pentagon Road Network." He notes that over 400 signs were needed to direct and control traffic and emphasizes the problems and research involved in determining controls for the sign designs.
1960 Administrator Bert Tallamy, in his last annual address to AASHO, declares that, "In recent months critics and detractors have had a field day--viewing with alarm a few individual trees and losing sight of the forest. But I believe we are justified in sounding a few blasts on our own horns at this time."
1967 FHWA bans installation of rapidly fixed traffic sign supports and light poles in exposed areas of Federal-aid highways where breakaway or yielding supports can be used.
1984 In a letter to The St. Petersburg Times, Administrator Ray Barnhart responds to an editorial ("A Path of Death") that urged reconstruction of Alligator Alley (I-75) to include 40 tunnels for the endangered Florida panthers. Calling the editorial "a shallow and tricky treatment of environmental issues," Barnhart writes, "Well, as Colonel Potter in M*A*S*H used to say, 'Horsehockey!'" Subsequently, however, the Florida Department of Transportation was authorized to use Federal-aid funds to construct panther crossings along the route.
1994 Susan J. Binder, formerly Chief of the Industry and Economic Analysis Branch, Office of Policy Development, reports for duty as Maryland Division Administrator, the first woman to become an FHWA Division Administrator.
1995 President Bill Clinton signs the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, which designates the NHS, but includes other provisions, including one repealing Federal involvement in setting speed limits. (See January 2, 1974.) Noting that the NHS unites major ports, airports, rail stations, and public transit, the President says, "The designation of the National Highway System makes clear that transportation infrastructure should be viewed as a single system with each mode complementing the others."
1968 Administrator Lowell Bridwell presents the First Annual Administrator's Award to 10 Headquarters employees: Deputy Director Edgar H. Swick; Chief Counsel Howard A. Heffron; Richard S. Salzman, Chief, Legislative Division; James E. Wilson, Deputy Director of Highway Safety Programs Services, NHSB; Daniel W. Fulmer, Director of Traffic Safety Secretariat, NHSB; Charles W. Prisk, Deputy Director for Safety; Kenneth L. Pierson, Special Assistant to the Director of BMCS; Joan B. Claybrook, Special Assistant to the Director, NHSB; Librarian Mildred W. Helvestine; and Director of Public Affairs Albert B. Kelley.

November 29

1993 Joint FHWA/FTA final rules on statewide and metropolitan planning go into effect, implementing major planning changes required by ISTEA. The regulations were developed by an interagency task force of the FHWA and FTA with input from FRA, the FAA, the Maritime Administration, the Office of the Secretary, and the EPA, as well as public comments, and the results of public meetings held in San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Kansas City in 1993. Administrator Rodney Slater and Federal Transit Administrator Gordon J. Linton approved the regulations on October 22. Each State must carry out a continuing, comprehensive, and intermodal statewide transportation planning process. Metropolitan planning organizations must carry out a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process to develop an integrated, intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economic movement of people and goods.

November 30

1955 William A. Grant, who may have been the Agency's first African-American employee, retires at the mandatory age of 70 after 51 years, 9 months, and 6 days of service. A Washington, DC, native, he had been hired as a student assistant to test cement and aggregates for concrete under Dr. A. B. Cushman. Soon, Director Logan Page arranged for Grant to receive special training in the Office of Geological Survey, where he learned to make, polish, and mount thin sections of mineral and rock specimens for petrographic study and classification. He performed this work for the remainder of his career. According to The News in Public Roads, "Mr. Grant holds a unique place in the respect and affection of his associates. The importance of doing his work conscientiously and with pride in the result has always been his principal concern." Mr. Grant died on August 20, 1966, at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, DC, after a brief illness.
Photo: William A. Grant
William A. Grant
Engineering Aid (Civil)
Bureau of Public Roads
1970 The comment period closes on proposed new bridge inspection standards covering the 236,000 bridges on the Federal-aid systems. FHWA developed the proposed standards in accordance with a requirement of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 enacted in response to concerns about bridge safety after collapse of the Silver Bridge. (See December 15, 1967.) Section 124 of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 expanded coverage of the National Bridge Inspection Standards to all highway bridges on public roads, including those off the Federal-aid highway systems.
1983 Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole snips a ribbon in ceremonies dedicating the Dulles Access Road extension in northern Virginia. Describing the road as "wonderful, wonderful," she says it "should assist the further growth" of Dulles International Airport. Designed and built under the supervision of FHWA's Office of Direct Federal Programs (Region 15) for the FAA, the $25-million highway will cut driving time between Washington, DC, and Dulles International Airport in half. The extension, which is intended to assist the growth of the underused airport, includes room for future construction of a Metrorail line.

Also in November

1910 After graduating with a civil engineering degree from Cornell University, Herbert S. Fairbank joins OPR as a student engineer assigned to a good roads train. Throughout his long career with the Agency, he would have a profound influence on the country. Among his many achievements, he was the chief author of Toll Roads and Free Roads (1939) and Interregional Highways (1944), the two documents that established the basis for the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. These reports were based to a large extent on the 1930's highway planning surveys, which he oversaw from start to finish.
1917 As part of OPRRE's contribution to the war effort, the Engineer of Tests begins devoting a considerable portion of his time to helping the Emergency Fleet Corporation in the testing of materials for and the designing of concrete ships.
1958 Near Ottawa, IL, full-scale testing begins for the AASHO Road Test, designed by BPR, AASHO, and the HRB to obtain data on all significant variables affecting pavements and short-span bridges. Portland cement concrete and asphaltic pavement sections, as well as 16 short-span bridges, are included in the 7-mile long specially constructed test facility. Under direction of the HRB, the tests are being financed by the highway bureaus of the 48 States, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with financial support from BPR, the Automobile Manufacturers Association, the petroleum industry, and the American Institute of State Construction. The Department of Defense furnished heavy vehicles for the test runs. By completion of the tests in November 1960, a total of 1,114,000 axle loads will have been applied to the pavements and bridges, providing the information needed to develop a more refined and scientific design of pavements and short-span bridges.
Photo: AASHO Road Test track, near Ottawa, IL.
AASHO Road Test track, near Ottawa, IL.
1968 A 25-minute film produced by FHWA's BPR is shown three times a day on Saturdays in the auditorium of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology. The showings will help FHWA design an Electronic Route Guidance System to guide motorists to their destinations anywhere in the country. After each showing, viewers are asked to fill out a questionnaire identifying the information they would need to reach destinations without relying on road signs.
1999 FHWA's Alabama Division Office delivers more than 100 pounds of nonperishable food to Montgomery's Chisholm Elementary School for distribution to needy students and their families.

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