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JFK speaks about the new highway 'through which this long ribbon will pass'

National GovernmentExecutive BranchJohn F. Kennedy

The following are remarks by President John F. Kennedy at the dedication of the Northeastern Expressway – Delaware Turnpike on Thursday, Nov. 14, 1963:

Mr. Moses, Governor Carvel, Governor Tawes, Congressman Fallon of Maryland, Congressman McDowell of Delaware, Mrs. Brewster, representing Senator Brewster, who stayed on the Senate floor today, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a pleasure for me to join the citizens of Delaware and Maryland in opening this new highway. This highway has been built by the dedicated effort of the citizens of these two States, and it joins a great interstate highway which represents a cooperative effort between the United States Government and the people of the various States, through which this long ribbon will pass.

It symbolizes, I believe, this highway, first of all, the partnership between the Federal Government and the States, which is essential to the progress of all of our people; and secondly, it symbolizes the effort we have made to achieve the most modern interstate highway system in the world, a system which, when completed, will save over 8,000 lives a year and $9 billion in cost. And third, it symbolizes the effort which we are giving and must be giving to organizing an effective communication system here in the United States of America.

No industry has a greater impact upon the Nation and no industry has a greater opportunity to affect our economic progress. This administration has proposed a new, comprehensive, national transportation policy, calling for an examination of the relationship between highways, rails, air routes, and water routes, and our goal is the development of the most efficient, economic, and the safest transportation system for all of our people.

Finally, this highway symbolizes a coordinated effort which is consistent with the approach which we must have to the problems in this section of the United States, for it may be only a few years when the whole area, stretching from Washington to Boston, will be one gigantic urban center. We have now undertaken a comprehensive study of all of the transportation needs which this area of the country will require in the coming years. But highway planning is not enough.

Already one-third of the people of the United States live in the 15 States through which this highway will pass. By the year 2000, these States  will need to find housing and parks for 23 million more people, an increase of roughly 50 percent in less than 40 years. They will need schools for 6 million more of your children. They will need hospital and nursing homes for some 8 million men and women over the age of 65, compared to 4 ½ million today. They will need to provide an additional 2 billion gallons of water every day.

So we must clean these rivers and we must get fresh water from salt water. These are some of the facts which the people of the Northeast must face, and the State governments must face them with them, and the Federal Government must take the lead. They may be facts which some would prefer to ignore. They may be facts which some would prefer to forget, but if the United States of America, and particularly the Northeast United States, these 15 States, are going to move ahead and provide a better life for the people of Delaware and the people of Maryland, and the people of the United States, then we are going to have to do something about it.

Because people several years ago made the plans and took the initiative, this highway is now being dedicated. I hope in the year 1963 we will again take stock of the needs of the country over the next decade and we will begin today, this year, this decade, the things which will make this country a better place to live in for the rest of this century.

I congratulate you, the people of Delaware, the people of Maryland, and the people of the United States.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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National GovernmentExecutive BranchJohn F. Kennedy
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