New Highways

December 13, 1954

Report Outline
President's plan for highway building
American Highways and Highway Demands
Problems in Financing Improved Highways

President's plan for highway building

President eisenhower's recommendations to the 84th Congress on legislation to authorize a vast long-term program to improve American highways will be foreshadowed in a report soon to be submitted at the White House by the Advisory Committee on a National Highway Program. Meanwhile, indications of what the report will contain have been given in speeches by Gen. Lucius D. Clay, chairman of the Advisory Committee, and in statements by spokesmen for the Governors Conference, which has been making its own parallel studies. At the same time, confusion has persisted as to the scope and projected costs of the new program. The Clay committee report is expected to clear up seeming conflicts in estimates and objectives and provide a definite basis for discussion of plans for obtaining the new and better roads the nation so urgently needs.

The President's Advisory Committee on a National Highway Program was appointed on Aug. 30 to draft proposals for executing and financing a “grand plan” of highway improvement advanced seven weeks earlier at the Governors Conference at Bolton Landing, N. Y. The President on that occasion called for a $50 billion, ten-year road modernization program. The magnitude of the project startled the governors. Partly because the plan threatened to strengthen rather than diminish federal influence over state road construction, and partly because it would almost certainly disappoint state hopes of persuading the federal government to abandon its gasoline tax, the governors initially displayed a hostile attitude.

Later reflection and study brought a complete reversal of state opinion. The executive committee of the Governors Conference on Dec. 2 approved recommendations corresponding closely to the proposals of Gen. Clay, and it was thereupon tacitly agreed that the governors would drop their efforts to make gasoline taxation the exclusive prerogative of the states.

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Motor Traffic and Roads