Q: Sixty years ago this week, President Dwight Eisenhower - who grew up in Abilene - signed legislation forever altering the landscape of the United States. What was it?
A: Federal Aid Highway Act or the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Interstate Highway Act is also acceptable)
On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act, also known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. Essentially, this legislation ushered in the age of the interstate, which connected major cities across the country. At the time, this was the largest public works project in American history. Of course, the legislation was crafted at a time when Congress actually worked with the president to get things done for its citizens. The massive construction project was primarily financed through taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires.
Eisenhower knew from his experience as a soldier the importance of large, wide highways for the efficient movement of troops and equipment across vast expanses of land. With completion of the interstate system, a cross-country journey that once took the U.S. military (and Ike) two months to complete had been reduced to just five days. Today, the complex series of highways across the country is known as the Eisenhower Interstate System. Thanks, Ike.