USDOT launches 50th anniversary year

usdot50U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined Feb. 3 by six of the department’s past CEOs in a celebration marking the start of a yearlong commemoration of its 50th anniversary.

Among those attending was Alan Boyd, whom President Johnson tapped to be the USDOT’s first secretary. He served two years in that post starting in January 1967. Others participating included former secretaries James Burnley, Samuel Skinner, Rodney Slater, Norman Mineta and Mary Peters.

The event had been originally scheduled for earlier in the year, but was postponed due the major snowstorm that hit the nation’s capital in late January. Foxx’s immediate predecessor, Ray LaHood, was reportedly planning to join the celebration as first scheduled but could not participate on Feb. 3 due to a schedule conflict.

However, LaHood was among the USDOT secretaries who contributed to a video about the department and the role in plays in commerce and mobility.

Creation of the USDOT gained legislative traction after President Johnson submitted a special message to Congress on March 2, 1966, in which he followed up on a task force recommendation by proposing the establishment of a cabinet-level department focused on transportation.

Congress then passed the Department of Transportation Act, which Johnson signed into law that fall in a White House ceremony. It combined 31 separate agencies and bureaus into the department. After Boyd was sworn in as secretary the next January, the department formally began operations in April 1967.