MARCH 31, 1958
NEW YORK—The Senate has passed a multibillion-dollar interstate highway construction bill, voting down an amendment offered by Senator Robert S. Kerr which would have removed a provision presented by the Senate Public Works Committee.
This provision says "that states conforming to Federal regulations as to size and placement of billboards on the new highways would be given special aid by the Federal government. States buying advertising rights along with Federal rights of way, which would permit them to regulate advertisements according to the Federal standards, would receive extra aid.
"A bonus would also be given to states that accepted Federal standards and used police and zoning powers to enforce them."
Senator Kerr felt this was an invasion of states' rights, but Senator Richard Neuberger (D., Ore.) and Senator Thomas H. Kuchel (R., Calif.) said it would simply conform to many Federal aid programs that grant funds to the states in return for their compliance with Federal standards.
Senator Norris Cotton (R., N.H.) already had modified the bill by an amendment which freed from billboard control all portions of the interstate system built over already existing rights of way. He estimated that this would cover about 35 percent of the new system.
There is a great deal of interest taken by the nation's business and advertising interests in this question of billboards. This bill has not as yet passed in the House, so many things may still happen, but I am glad that there are signs that the people in the country are taking an interest in what the sides of the roads along which they drive look like.
If we leave our countryside purely to commercial interests, I am afraid that we will find very little interest in what the highways look like, and yet this highway system of ours is one of the things that we should be extremely proud of. No country in the world has a better one.
Also, few countries have as many cars owned by as many people as does the United States. Therefore, our people have a greater interest in the enjoyment of these highways, and not only parkways but every well-traveled highway should give as much rest and pleasure to the eye as we can possibly manage.
I have always felt that planting of trees along the roads was an important thing and that every house owner should try to make as attractive as possible his own particular piece of land along which a road runs. In widening highways, we have eliminated many of the old and beautiful trees that were planted years ago. Perhaps it would be well to plant some again with an eye to future generations.