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H.R. 10660, Federal Highway Act of 1956

Congress committed $24.8 billion to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The thirteen-year plan regulated design and construction standards and supported 41,000 miles of new and improved highways, linking all parts of the nation with a modern transportation system for an increasingly mobile populace.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

H.R. 10660, Federal Highway Act of 1956

Creating an Interstate Highway System

In his 1956 State of the Union Address to Congress, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for “legislation to provide a modern, interstate highway system.” Within months, after considerable debate, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. It authorized the extension of highways nationwide in one of the largest public works projects in U.S. history. Interstate highways made travel and commerce more efficient. They also provided key routes for evacuating urban centers—a critical national defense issue in the Cold War era.