Everyone’s favorite state agency, or at the least the one everyone “interacts” with every day, turned 100 on Tuesday. Founded as the Highway Department of Georgia, GDOT was assisted by an allotment of $75 million from the Federal Aid Highway Act. The Act stipulated that the money came with the intention of forming a state highway department to oversee construction contracts. The name change came later in 1972. Prior to the founding of the department, the legislature passed an act in 1891 that allowed county commissioners to levy a tax to buy mules and machinery and to employ labor at regular wages. Citizens were also allowed to pay the tax by working on roads at a rate of 50 cents per day. This was probably a better arrangement than the 1755 law in the colony of Georgia that divided the state into nine districts and assessed taxes on males between 16 and 60 who were required to perform as many as 12 days of labor a year.

Prior to the dominance of the motor carriage, it wasn’t horse-drawn wagons that had been the big push, it was bicycles. It’s unclear if penny-farthings were a big part of it or not but the Good Roads Movement was a national crusade for better roads, particularly in rural areas. 

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