June 30, 2015

Fifty years ago today, the internal White House deliberations that led to the creation of the Department of Transportation were set in motion.

In a letter to President Johnson, outgoing FAA Administrator Najeeb Halaby (one of the most interesting people ever to pass through federal public service, having earlier piloted the first transcontinental jet flight in U.S. history (Muroc to Pax River, 5 hours 40 minutes) and later fathering Queen Noor of Jordan) told Johnson that he felt that the U.S. transportation system would lag behind other countries’ systems unless policymaking responsibilities were centralized in a Department of Transportation.

Although centralization had been proposed several times in the prior decades by various commissions and task forces, it was not until Halaby’s letter that the Johnson Administration started seriously considering the idea with working groups that aimed to deliver legislation to Congress in 1966.