1959 Eisenhower Meeting on DC Mass Transit Plan
This PDF is a memorandum for the record of the July 9, 1959 meeting between President Eisenhower and members of the District of Columbia Commission and the National Capital Planning Commission. At the meeting, the President was presented with the results of the Mass Transportation Survey that had been authorized by the National Capital Planning Act of 1952. The survey recommended that a rail mass transit system be built in the District of Columbia (along with a program of highway extensions).
At the meeting, Eisenhower “asked whether the committee had considered the possibility of a special tax on automobiles coming into the central areas of cities, it being his observation that it was very wasteful to have an average of just over one man per $3,000 car driving into the central area and taking all the space required to park the car.”
Also at the meeting, the head of the NCPC “pointed out that there was no existing agency capable of acting in the two States and the District, and the President indicated his willingness to recommend legislation which would develop some kind of interstate authority.” This legislation became the National Capital Transportation Act of 1960, which created the National Capital Transportation Agency to build mass transit in the District of Columbia and which gave the consent of Congress for Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to negotiate an interstate compact to “formulate plans and policies for the development of the region, and to perform governmental functions of a regional character, including but not limited to the provision of regional transportation facilities.” That interstate compact was finalized in 1966 and created WMATA.