If you are like most Americans than dodging potholes and navigating the uneven and cracked surfaces of pavements is part of your daily commute. But, surprisingly the first commuters who called attention to dismal state of American roads weren’t those behind the wheel of a car, but bicyclist calling for improved road conditions after the widespread popularity of the road bike in the late 1800’s.
Up until that point road maintenance was considered a local issue and was primarily ignored at the federal level. The introduction of the Model T changed all of that and pressure over the state of the road system become more pronounced as the public become increasingly mobile.
The Office of Road Inquiry was established with an initial budget of $10,000. This would become the precursor to the Federal Highway Administration and modern road construction. The U.S. Supreme Court officially granted Congress the power to construct an interstate highway system a few decades later and in 1921 the Federal Road Act allowed the of granting federal funds to states for road construction and maintenance.
A few facts to think about while you are driving:
-The U.S Highway network comprises of over 4 million miles of roads and streets.
-The original highway act was construct roads primarily used by mail carriers.
-The Federal Highway Act of 1956 established the modern interstate system and cost around $31 billion to complete.