How Interstate Highways Gutted Communities—and Reinforced Segregation

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When Congress approved the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, it authorized what was then the largest public works program in U.S. history. The law promised to construct 41,000 miles of an ambitious interstate highway system that would criss-cross the nation, dramatically expanding America’s roadways and connecting 42 state capital cities and 90 percent of all American cities with populations over 50,000. President Dwight Eisenhower called the massive infrastructure project “essential to the national interest.”



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