On July 11, 1916, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act. This law made federal money available for creating and maintaining highways. Up until this time, the cost for building and maintaining roads had been either a state or local responsibility. Many roads were unpaved, and in very bad condition. The act led to a dramatically improved infrastructure in the United States.

Improvements to the road system coincided with the introduction of affordable cars. This meant many more Americans were driving, and driving longer distances, than ever before. Within a year, every state had a chapter to administer the federal highway funding. Over the next 50 years, roads would continue to improve and expand, giving rise to suburban life and the interstate highway system. Today, the United States transit system has 6.3 million kilometers (3.9 million miles) of public roads.

administer
Verb

to manage or supervise.

coincide
Verb

to occur at the same time.

expand
Verb

to grow or get larger.

federal
Adjective

having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).

highway
Noun

large public road.

improve
Verb

to make something more valuable.

infrastructure
Noun

structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

interstate roadway
Noun

numbered road that stretches between at least two U.S. states. Also called "I" followed by the roadway's number.

transit
Noun

event when a planet passes between a viewer and the sun.