Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Apportionment of Funds for the Interstate Highway System.
WITH the signing of this legislation, we are authorizing the largest single year apportionment of Federal aid to the States for highways.
The highways to be built and improved under the Federal-aid highway program will save time, save money, and save the lives of motorists. They will strengthen our national economy and our national defense. They will increase the markets for the products of our farms and they will give flexibility to the movement of people and goods in our growing urban areas. They will broaden the travel and recreational opportunities for all Americans. They will permit everyone to see the beauty and grandeur of America conveniently, comfortably, and safely.
This legislation also provides for the study of the orderly continuation of the Federal aid highway program. Congress has asked that it be provided with regular estimates of the future highway needs of the Nation. This administration, through the Department of Commerce and its Bureau of Public Roads, has a study underway of our future highway needs. On the basis of that study, I will, in January 1968, consider legislation for a program of Federal aid to the States for highways to continue after the expiration of the present program in 1972.
This legislation also provides the tools for a coordinated national attack on highway accidents. It provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall develop uniform standards for State highway safety programs. The death of over 48,000 persons on our highways last year and the prospect of an even greater total this year give urgency to a national safety effort. The approach provided for by this legislation is in keeping with the traditional Federal-State relationship through which the Federal-aid highway program has operated so successfully. It recognizes the primary responsibility of the States for highway safety and at the same time acknowledges the Federal Government's responsibility to lead and coordinate.
This legislation, however, is but part of what is needed to insure that our highways will be able to meet the increasing demands placed upon them. I have proposed to Congress legislation to insure that the Highway Trust Fund will receive the revenue it needs so that the States might receive Federal aid sufficient for the timely completion of the Interstate Highway System. I have also submitted to Congress legislation that will insure that the enormous public investments in highways will be 'protected from roadside blight and that highways will serve the increasing public demand for the beautiful as well as the merely utilitarian. The everyday driving of Americans provides the greatest opportunity to see and enjoy the beauty of our Nation. The higher standard of living and the increased leisure time of Americans have created a demand for scenic and recreational roads. I anticipate that the Congress will shortly act on these needs.
This proposed legislation meets a public need, in reality a public necessity, and is going to be pursued with all the vigor of the executive department until acted upon.
We are a Nation of almost 100 million drivers and 90 million vehicles. By 1970 we will be driving a trillion miles a year in America. We cannot depend on the roads of yesterday to carry the motor traffic of today and tomorrow. The life and pocketbook of every American are affected by the efficiency of our motor transportation system. The legislation now before Congress is necessary if we are to meet the new needs essential to the progress of our motor transportation system.
I appeal to all patriotic citizens interested in the improvement and continued development of our highway system to unite to the end of making that system adequate, superior in construction, and most important, attractive and beautiful.
Note: As enacted, the bill (S.I. Res. 81) is Public Law 89-139 (79 Stat. 578).
On the same day the White House released a summary of the provisions of the bill (1 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs., p. 167).
The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was approved by the President on October 22, 1965 (see Item 576).
The statement was released at Austin, Tex.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Apportionment of Funds for the Interstate Highway System. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240788