The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 124

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

only with the problem of moving large volumes of traffic swiftly across
country. Farmers and politicians, expressing their own narrow con-
cerns, lobbied for local traffic solutions. During and after World War
II, the executive branch of government, though sensitive to highway
and social needs, failed to break the political stalemate. Traffic condi-
tions, meanwhile, deteriorated to such an extent that concerted action
became necessary in the mid-195os. Americans' dissatisfaction with
traffic jams, state threats to construct disjointed toll roads, and the pop-
ular identification of good highways with a prosperous economy forced
the interest groups to agree on the Interstate Highway Act of 1956.
The Act of 1956 represented a muted compromise of the half-
century stalemate. Truckers and engineers won the most because the
act primarily concerned traffic efficiency. Planners lost a great deal of
input as no incentives existed for state engineers to design the inter-
state to promote urban revitalization. The chance for an integrated
interstate system-built for the twin needs of traffic efficiency and over-
all social welfare-was lost in the self-interest-dominated halls of Con-
gress. Rose explains that the planners' schemes "were not feasible
politically" (p. 99) because the planners themselves were divided and
because each interest group's "perceptions of national needs were
rooted in narrow definitions of industrial and professional welfare and
the exigencies of bureaucratic survival" (p. 1oo).
Rose organizes his study well, but executes it in a disappointing
fashion. An erratic prose style forces the reader to reread passages to be
sure of the intended meaning. More troublesome is Rose's unwilling-
ness to tie the political narrative of the 1940s and 1950s to the earlier
economic reform movements. Implicit in this work is the conclusion
that the progressive ideal of disinterested experts making decisions for
the common good never materialized.
University of Texas, Austin WILLIAM R. CHILDS


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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