This is a series of videos about the history of highways in Alabama. The time period spanned is from the earliest days of Alabama to the Interstate age.
The earliest forms of transportation in Alabama involved trails followed by animals and Native Americans. These trails lead to water, and Alabama rivers served as a gathering place for many early Indian settlements. It is along the paths of Native American trails that the first highway systems were developed.
Using the old Native American trails, white settlers to Alabama begin the first transportation system in the state. Early roads were simply dirt paths widened for wagons and animals. Later corduroy and plank roads covered the dirt helping to eliminate the muddy conditions that followed rain. River transportation and the first railroads also played a large part in the growth of Alabama’s transportation during this time. The invention of the automobile caused a revolution in the transportation world and increased the need for a better highway system.
As the growth of the automobile industry continued and more and more people purchased cars, a system of good highways was in demand. United States legislators and senators became involved in passing bills to establish federal highways and to provide monies for the construction and maintenance of those roads. This boom in the building of new roadways led to both good and bad practices and called for innovative ways to raise money to match the demand.
Length: 18 min, 55 Secs
The development of a transportation system in Alabama first included river towns, then upland towns serving as railroad stops, and then highway towns as roads were built to connect the shortest distance between places. Politics and highway construction have gone hand in hand as elected officials made decisions about where roads would be built and how monies would be spent. President Eisenhower established the Interstate System and automobile travel became the major source of transportation for people and goods.
The development of a highway and byway system leads to growth and prosperity in Alabama, but with the amount of traffic on the roadways comes the rise in highway related accidents and death. National and State safety boards and law enforcement personnels work to make the highways safer and laws are enacted to make road travel less of a risk.