Commentary by Henry Cisneros Suzanne Shank
September 27, 2016
We are seeing more and more states taking proactive steps to address transportation funding challenges. In 2015 and 2016, more than a dozen states including Texas are raising additional revenue for transportation.
Sixty years ago, the United States embarked on one of the most ambitious and successful undertakings in the history of the federal government. In June 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act, which created what we have come to know as the Interstate Highway System. A vast network made up of some 47,000 miles of roads, the system has transformed our nation economically, culturally and geographically.
The system, which took decades to build, fundamentally altered where and how Americans live. Suburbs were born, new industries were created and the shipment of goods by truck over long distances radically changed almost every sector of the economy. In 1960, with the system in its infancy, Americans drove approximately 7.19 trillion highway miles per year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation; in 2014, that number had risen to 30.25 trillion.
It was not just the potential economic boost that convinced Eisenhower to champion the federal highway program. As a former general who had led U.S. forces in Europe during World War II, President Eisenhower believed a highway system was essential for our national defense. With the threat of the Cold War, Eisenhower argued the military needed to be able to move equipment quickly over long distances and civilians might need to evacuate large areas on short notice. Read on…