Extended Essay: History Extended Essay : the Federal Highway Act of 1956

Topics: Interstate Highway System, Dwight D. Eisenhower, National Highway System Pages: 11 (4327 words) Published: December 31, 2012
History Extended Essay

The Federal Highway Act of 1956

To what extent did the Federal Aid-Highway Act of 1956
influence the economy and society of the United
States of America within 50 years after its construction?

By: Karanveer Kumar Kapania

May 2012

Candidate Number: 1432-022

Word count: 3332

During the 1930’s, there was a dire need for an intercontinental highway system. The US President and Congress acknowledged the need and also predicted their economic benefits. Within a couple of decades, a plan for a national highway system was turned into law. This law would affect economic and social aspects of American life for decades. To what extent did the Federal Aid-Highway Act of 1956 influence the economy and society of the United States of America within 50 years after its construction? This paper looks at how the economy in the specific areas of productivity, industry costs and the job market, have changed with the emergence of the Interstate during the five decade span. Similarly, this paper looks at the Interstate’s affect on the social aspects of American life during the same time span. This is done by looking at data and statistics from a number of sources. This data compares economic and social factors before and after the Interstate was built in many specific areas or in the whole United States. The data, which is the form of numbers, mostly looks at things like cost, number of lives saved, and many other factors This data is assessed and then the paper explains how it influences the economic and social aspects. The conclusion reached is that the Federal-Aid highway Act affected the social and economic aspects of American life to a great extent. This act ordered the construction of highways across the American landscape connecting people and businesses with one another. When comparing economic growth before the passing of this act to after it was passed, the economy has grown exponentially. Similarly, there has been an immense affect on the social factors of American life such as safety, healthcare and human interaction.

Word Count: 293

Table of contents

Title Page1


Table of Contents3

Acknowledgements 4

Introduction 5

Economic Impact5-8

Social Impact8-10

Conclusion 10

Works Cited Page11-12


I would now like to take the time and thanks my Extended Essay advisor Mr. Calvin Grisham for providing assistance when I needed it and leading me on the right track. Thank you for all your help towards writing this paper. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Ever since the Federal Aid-Highway Act was signed into law, the Interstate Highway System has served the needs of the American population for more than five decades and has impacted the economic and social aspects of American life to a great extent. These changes have been seen in the areas of productivity, industry costs, the job market, safety, healthcare, human interaction and the quality of life. The US Interstate Highway System is a collection of highways that runs in the 48 contiguous states along with the states of Hawaii, Alaska, and the territory of Puerto Rico. The standard Interstate has at least two lanes in each direction with no intersections or traffic signals. These highways were designed in a way to handle large amounts of traffic 20 years from the day of completion (Siasoco). This system is able to reach all regions in the US. Even though there are approximately 47,000 miles of highways, the System only represents 1 percent of all roads in the US yet carries 23 percent of the entire nation’s traffic (The Future of the Interstate Highway System). During the 20’s and 30’s, when automobiles became common in the lives of the American people, it was evident that an extensive road system would be needed to meet high demand of travel. Not only...

Cited: Map of Interstate Highways in the United States as of July 2006. Digital image. National Atlas. N.p., 2 July 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. <http://www.nationalatlas.gov/printable/images /pdf/reference/genref.pdf>.
Schweppe, Ellen
Siasoco, Ricco Villanueva. "Red, White, and Blue Highways." Infoplease. Infoplease, 2007. Web. 15 Mar. 2012. <http://www.infoplease.com/spot/interstate1.html>.
Staniford, Stuart
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