NASHVILLE, TN: Gas was eight cents a gallon. A car cost $490. The state had just 4,000 miles of highway. TDOT had just a single employee.
That the way it it was in 1915. And it’s a far cry from today.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation today kicked off “100 Years of Moving Tennessee Forward,” a year-long celebration of its centennial as a state agency. The state statute creating the first state highway agency, the Tennessee Department of Highways and Public Works, became law on July 1, 1915. The department was tasked with creating a network of state highways and to perform and oversee construction and maintenance on state roadways.
Commissioner John C. Schroer, the 29th commissioner of the agency, said, “For a hundred years, this agency has been moving Tennessee forward with a fiscally sound funding philosophy and strategic investments. Our goal then and now is to serve the citizens of Tennessee by providing the best transportation system in the nation.”
Several activities are planned over the next year, including historical exhibits, a history book, and a permanent centennial memorial to help educate Tennesseans on the value of transportation and the significant contributions made by the agency and the men and women who built the state’s transportation system.
TDOT has also launched a website with a history video, schedule of activities for the year, an agency timeline, “Transportation AnecDOTes,” a photo gallery and historical documents. Later this summer a social media campaign will encourage the public to share their transportation related photos. A celebration will cap off events on July 1, 2015 when TDOT hits the big 100.
“From Gov. Austin Peay’s 1923 recognition that motorists should pay for the roads rather than property owners to the passage of the 1986 Road Program by Gov. Lamar Alexander, leadership in Tennessee has always recognized the value of a good transportation system and acted on that philosophy,” Commissioner Schroer added. “We are pleased to mark this milestone by sharing TDOT’s history with our transportation users.”