PRIMITIVE trails united our early colonies. After we became a Nation, horse-drawn wagons carried our settlers--and our Union--westward.
Today a complex network of waterways, railroads, highways, and airlines interlaces our Nation.
In the process of its growth, transportation has become America's biggest industry.
More than 2 1/2 million people and $1 of every $5 of our national economy today operate the vast transportation network which moves the people and the products of this society. Last year:
--More than 90 million motor vehicles passed over some 3 million miles of paved roads and streets.
--Almost 100,000 airplanes traveled more than 1 billion miles.
--1.5 trillion ton miles of cargo moved by railroads, highways, and waterways.
But the very size of our transportation system and the rapidity of its growth have produced problems which this Nation can no longer tolerate:
--Traffic clogs the streets of our cities and the air lanes above them.
--Accidents and safety abuses bring unnecessary death and injury to thousands.
--Outmoded and inefficient services and equipment add unnecessarily to the costs of consumer goods.
--The countryside is needlessly defaced. Congestion, inconvenience, costly delays, death and suffering--all of these, and more-demonstrate the urgent need for action.
For this reason I proposed, and the Congress last year approved, the creation of the Department of Transportation.
The Executive order signed today, following months of extensive planning, will bring this vital new Department of Government into operation on Saturday, April 1. It will consolidate 35 programs previously dispersed through 7 departments and independent agencies. It will bring together nearly 100,000 employees, and annual expenditures of more than $6 billion.
The tasks of this new department are as complex and difficult as they are challenging and important:
--To modernize and unify our national transportation policy.
--To bring greater safety to the travels of all American citizens.
--To apply the best of an expanding technology to every mode of transportation.
--To strengthen our partnership with private enterprise and State and local governments in meeting America's urgent transportation needs.
--To improve our transportation links with the rest of the world.
The country looks to Alan Boyd, the Secretary of the new Department on transportation matters, to set in motion the programs which will move us rapidly toward these goals.
The Secretary should:
--Give top priority to the safety of our people as they travel by land, sea, or air.
--Step up our efforts to improve traffic flow and ease congestion without scarring the beauty of our cities and countryside.
--Call upon the technological genius of this country to provide better roads and highways, vehicles which do not pollute the atmosphere, faster and more efficient modes of transportation.
--Enhance our foreign trade through improved connections with the larger systems of world transportation.
--Assist, in cooperation with the Agency for International Development, the less fortunate nations of this world to overcome their critical transportation problems.
The Executive order signed today opens a new era for transportation in America. It marks the beginning of a determined effort to achieve that transportation system which the America of today critically needs--and on which the productive America of tomorrow depends.
The well-being of all Americans will be affected, directly and vitally, by the progress we make toward the goals which we have set.