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 Many people, including the United Taxpayers League, opposed any movement toward centralizing roadwork, road bonds, or statewide coordinated improvements. They argued against the loss of local self-government, and warned about the danger of the automobile to family values, local culture, and the community’s identity.


In 1914, the Lincoln Highway, today’s Highway 30, connected New York to San Francisco. Its path through Iowa was slow and tedious due to the dirt road conditions. Horses seemed more suited for the Iowa section than the thousands of automobiles that struggled over it. 


In 1920 Iowa registered over 400,000 vehicles but could boast of only 25 miles of paved roads outside city limits. Roads were maintained by the township road districts, which either charged a local road tax or allowed residents to work two days a year smoothing roads. This decentralized system did little to prepare the roads for the automobile or to provide safe avenues across the state.



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