LET ME thank the various Governors here--Governor Ray, Governor Rampton, Governor O'Callaghan, Governor Bennett, and Governor Moore, representing the Governors and the Governors' Conference--for coming for the signing of the highway message.
The highway message is about 20 years after the establishment of the Interstate Highway System, some 42,500 miles. President Eisenhower took the lead, and Congress approved the establishment of the Interstate Highway System, one of the great public works projects in the history of the United States.
But times have changed, and as a result, in the highway message that I am sending, I am recommending the consolidation of some 30 categorical grant programs into four basic areas for the utilization of Federal funds.
We are going to have the funds to complete the interstate system. We will have funds for an urban area highway program, and we will have a rural highway program, and then we will have the safety and beautification programs as a result.
This program tends to give to the States greater flexibility in the utilization of the funds for the completion of the interstate system and the development of a sound highway program.
We have made great strides in our highway construction. It has tied cities together, it has tied the Nation together, but there are some essential links that need completion in the interstate system. They will be completed under this program, and at the same time, we accelerate, through the flexibility, the development of highway programs in each of the various States.
So, it is a pleasure and a privilege for me to sign this message that will provide roughly $3,250 million a year for the interstate system, around $1,050 million for the rural program, $800 million a year for the urban program, $400 million a year for the safety program, and $65 million a year for the beautification program.
This, I believe, is a major step forward in the extension and completion of our various highway programs.
So, I thank Governor Ray and his associates for coming and participating in this ceremony. With their help, I am at least confident that we can convince the Congress to take this very significant and forward step.
As soon as I finish this, Bob, if you want to add a word on behalf of the Governors, I will appreciate it.