Scroll to discover key dates and events in Indiana’s roadbuilding history.
Eleven years before statehood, Indiana's territorial general assembly met for its first session and determined that new and better roads were crucial for the growth of the territory. The assembly decreed that all citizens should be compelled to work 12 days each year on building and maintaining public roadways. (The Indiana Album)
Recognizing the need for a trans-Appalachian road to connect the young nation to the westward colonies, President Thomas Jefferson signed an act establishing the first federally funded road in America. The National Road (or Cumberland Road) was a well-traveled route that brought thousands of settlers into the Ohio River Valley. Today, most of the National Road is now US-40. (The Indiana Album/Ray Hinz Collection)
The Indiana State Legislature commissioned the Michigan Road to connect Indianapolis to both the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. At this time, most Hoosier settlers lived in the Ohio River Valley. The Michigan Road served as Indiana's first "superhighway," opening up the entire state to easier settlement. (The Indiana Album)
Conceived by Indianapolis native Carl Fisher, the Lincoln Highway was the first American highway to span from coast to coast. In 1919, Indiana awarded its first federal-aid highway project to Rieth-Riley Construction Co. of Goshen to build a 6.355-mile section of the Lincoln Highway through Elkhart County. (The Indiana Album/Roger Morphew Collection)
During the final organization meeting of the Indiana Association of Highway and Municipal Contractors (now called Indiana Constructors, Inc.), highway contractors from around Indiana met to approve the association's bylaws, appoint directors and find an executive secretary for the organization.
To combat unemployment during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt's New Deal included programs to improve America's roads and bridges. The National Industrial Recovery Act provided the Indiana State Highway Commission $10.2 million in 1933, and immediately, the state announced a $1 million road widening program meant to employ 10,000 people. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration provided Indiana with $10 million for highway and grade separation work, and the Indiana Highway Commissioner recommended a 10-year project dedicated to making well-traveled roads safer. (The Indiana Album/Heslar Naval Armory Collection)
Because of World War II, contractors back home had to adapt to gas rationing, tire conservation, wage freezes, price controls, renegotiation of contracts, labor disputes and more. Because of conflict in the Pacific, the Associated General Contractors of America's annual convention was moved from Seattle to Indianapolis.
Recognizing a need for cooperative effort, Indiana counties, cities and the State Highway Commission formed the Indiana Joint Committee on Street-Highway Program. Today, ICI's Joint Cooperative Committee is still going strong, bringing together people from INDOT and ICI to come up with collaborative solutions.
Industry leaders founded Indiana Highways for Survival with a goal to inform the public about Indiana's dire need to update its roads. The group changed its name to Indiana Highways for Progress in 1983 and dissolved into Build Indiana Council in 1987.
President Eisenhower signed a 13-year, $32.5 billion highway bill, launching a roadbuilding program to build 41,000 miles of Interstate. The first Interstate to cross Indiana, I-74, fully opened in 1967. Today, Indiana serves as the "Crossroads of America" with I-64, I-65, I-69, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90 and I-94 all crossing through the state. (The Indiana Album/Joan Hostetler Collection)
After 42 years of service, William M. "Bill" Holland, Executive Secretary of ICI, retired. He had dutifully served the organization through its formation, The Great Depression, World War II and the Interstate Highway System. James G. Newland, ICI Director of Public Relations since 1961, succeeded Holland.
James G. Newland "retired" from ICI after 20 years as Executive Secretary, though he continued to advocate for the heavy, highway and utility industry for decades to come. He went on to be a consultant for Build Indiana Council and served as Executive Director for the I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) awards projects to contractors at a letting, which is the official receipt, opening and determination of the apparent low bidder. Before 1998, lettings would occur once a month at a hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Contractors would stay the weekend at the hotel, making deals with suppliers and subcontractors to develop their bids. Bids would be turned in to INDOT and brought back to the hotel for reading. In 1998, lettings moved to the Indiana Government Center South, and in 2007, INDOT shifted to electronic bidding. Many in the industry would consider it to be the end of an era. (The Indiana Album/J. Parke Randall Collection)
The voice of the heavy, highway and utility industry (ICI) and the voice of the building industry (Associated General Contractors of Indiana) combined into one unified organization, Indiana Construction Association, Inc.
Governor Eric Holcomb signed HB 1002 into law on April 27, 2017, ushering in a package of transformative road funding methods that enable the state to maintain and improve its system of highways, roads and bridges for many years to come.