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Building the Broad Highway

Jeffrey Syken

When Henry Ford made the motorcar affordable to the masses, he may not have realized that he was setting in motion the greatest road-building program since the time of the Caesars. After all, what good is car ownership if you canít get to where youíre going? In the early 20th Century, for a farmer to take his produce from field to market in a horse and wagon Ė a trip of perhaps twenty miles, required an entire dayís effort. The automobile and truck lessened the farmerís burden and saved time, but the roads he had to travel on were, at best, crude and difficult to traverse. By the 1920s, more and more paved roads began to appear in both the city and countryside and a clarion-call for more and better roads and bridges for vehicular traffic was heard across the land. The highway engineers had their work cut-out for them, but they were up to the task. Nowadays, we take the roads we travel on for granted for the most part, itís as though they were there by providence. The road building program that started in earnest in the 1920s culminated thirty years later with the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 under the Eisenhower Administration. It was an heroic effort that literally transformed the landscape; sometimes for the better, other times for the worse.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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