State and Federal Highways

The State and Federal Highway Systems

“In total, the State of California has created a highway system which has been the subject of study and admiration of this Nation and the world.” - C. Raymond Clar

Congressional passage of the Federal-Aid Highway/National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 was instrumental in establishing a nationwide network of modern freeways. Originally designed for military purposes, this system would have huge impacts on civilian transportation as well.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the greatest amount of national and state highway construction. This even included a fantastic proposal to use atomic bombs to excavate a highway route through mountains!

California launched its own ambitious program. Some of these new freeways cut through the heart of many of the State’s cities and towns, destroying many older neighborhoods. The “Freeway Revolt” of the 1960s saw some cities call a halt to such projects.

state and federal highway systems

California State Capitol Museum – The Road Ahead Exhibit

This is a website specifically for the “The Road Ahead: The Automobile’s Impact on California” Exhibit. Dates: May 23, 2018 – April 29, 2019 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit