West Side Highway, 1951

Advocacy organizations were one of the critical forces behind the development of our modern highway network. Through boosterism, research, planning and political action during the Good Roads era, these organizations served an important role in defining need, design and use.

Today, both formal and informal advocacy organizations are being formed and planned around our nation’s historic roads. Some serve as recorders of history and popular culture, while others are actively involved with the design and management of historic facilities. If properly developed and organized they may become credible and respected partners providing valuable assistance to the management entity.

An advocacy organization can record, research, and document a road’s history; assist the managing organization in reporting safety problems, vandalism, and maintenance issues; and serve as an independent “watchdog” organization to ensure that state and federal policies and reviews are being upheld. Naturally, advocacy organizations are the principal generator and organizer of community outreach through special or commemorative events, public awareness projects, community publications, scholarly research and interpretive programs. Depending on the structure of the advocacy organization and its relationship with the managing agency, advocacy organizations can also lobby, campaign or fundraise on behalf of the historic road, or provide volunteer labor for clean-up projects, traffic surveys and restoration projects. For longer historic routes and corridors they may serve as a unifying voice for multi-state or regional historic roads.