Eisenhower’s Transportation Policies
In celebration of the dedication of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in downtown Washington this week, the Eno Center presents the results of a four-year research project into the transportation policy documents of the Eisenhower Library and other National Archives facilities.
Articles describing the Eisenhower-era transportation policies and actions are organized by mode and can be accessed by clicking the links at the bottom of this page. In each article, there are numerous links to original source documents, many of which are hosted on the Eno website and are unavailable digitally anywhere else.
Road studies ordered two weeks after inauguration, Robert Moses drafts a bill, “too many cooks in kitchen,” the “$50 billion plan” speech, the Clay Committee.
Tweaking the Clay Committee report, strong Congressional opposition to debt, the House kills the 1955 bill, the Yellow Book clearly delineates urban routes, the Administration comes up with a revised plan (with tax increases), Congress convinces Ike to use the “hidden hand,” Treasury and Commerce work with Congressional committees to shape a bill, the White House gets a bill to its liking in conference, the bill is signed.
The 1958 recession, highway spending as economic stimulus, Ike requests another gas tax increase, Congress refuses, Ike starves state highway bureaus into submission, taxes are raised again, Interstate growing pains prompt further study, reevaluation.
Studying the future aviation needs of the jet age, creating a new Federal Aviation Agency, fighting Congress on airport grants, building a second airport for Washington, DC, and overseeing airline route selection and finances.
Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, efforts to maintain a civilian merchant marine, and the NS SAVANNAH.
Railroad strikes, the 1955 “Weeks report,” railroads in crisis in 1957, the Transportation Act of 1958.
The rapid decline of commuter rail, the White House rejects the first transit aid proposal, a push for metropolitan area planning, creation of the Washington DC transit system, and the “freeway revolt” against urban Interstate construction.
The failure of the 1954 Transportation Message, a growing consensus on user fees, the guiding hand of Milton Eisenhower and PACGO, debate over creating a Department of Transportation, the 1960 Federal Transportation Policy and Program report.
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Explore the Archives
Visit Eno’s historical archives for more digitized source documents for transportation’s key moments, an archive of articles on other historical moments, and an archive of the STPP website.