National Highway System

Additional road surveys further demonstrated the need for a federally maintained highway network that would support national defense and interstate commerce. In 1922, Army General John Pershing and his staff compiled a list of 200,000 miles of interconnected public roads the Army felt were essential for national defense. The Pershing Map provided an early model for countrywide, connected highways, surface roads, and feeder routes. Many of the routes indicated on the map would be familiar to interstate travelers today.

  • America‚Äôs first road surveys are memorialized on the Zero Milestone, a mile marker near the White House indicating the point from which all distances from the Capitol should be measured. A temporary marker was erected in 1919, the very day the Motor Transport Corps left Washington; Congress authorized the Secretary of War to install a permanent pillar a year later. Funding for the interstate road system would not arrive for 36 more years.