Horatio S. Earle, Chair, Michigan State Highway Committee?, and road equipment salesman, was one of those Good Roads evangelists?. He was chair of the Michigan League of American Wheelmen?. Earle was elected to the Michigan Senate where, in 1901, he introduced a bill to create a State Highway Commission?. In 1905, Michigan Governor Aaron T. Bliss? appointed Earle Commissioner of Highways; M-DOT notes that Earle served as Commissioner of Highways "unofficially and without salary." His principle goal during these years was to advocate for a Michigan State constitutional amendment allowing the state to fund the construction of state wagon roads. When this passed in 1905, the Michigan legislature created the Michigan State Highway Department?, which is currently known as the Michigan Department of Transportation? or M-DOT?. Governor Fred Warner? appointed Earle the first Commissioner of Highways. Earle served in this position until 1909.
In 1902, Earle helped organize the American Road Makers? (which was later renamed the American Road & Transportation Builders Association?). As part of ARBTA, he proposed a Federally-funded and constructed system of highways that would connect each state capital, in what he called the "Capital Connecting Government Highway System." ARBTA claims Earle as the ideological godfather of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System?.1
One of his last acts as commissioner was to authorize and fund, with Wayne County Road Commissioner Edward N. Hines?, the paving of Woodward Avenue between Six and Seven Mile. This became the first section of concrete roadway anywhere in the world. Shortly thereafter he resigned as road commissioner.
Earle then tried to parley his road construction advocacy into higher political office. He ran for governor in 1908 and again in 1920, and for Mayor of Detroit in 1912, losing every time.
1. ⇑ "History," American Road & Transport Builders Association (ARTBA.org), 2014 (Archived by WebCite®). ⇑
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