State transportation officials on Thursday will pay tribute to the man considered to be the father of the Texas highway system when they induct Dewitt C. Greer into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor.
Greer, a 1923 graduate of Texas A&M University, joined the Texas Highway Department in 1927 and served as the engineer-director of the Department from 1940 until his retirement in 1968. He then became a member of the Texas Highway Commission from 1969 until 1981, serving under Governors Preston Smith and Dolph Briscoe. At the time of his death in 1986, Greer had completed more than half a century of service to the state.
Greer was the chief administrator of the Texas Highway Department during the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Among other qualities, Greer was noted for being as thrifty with taxpayers’ money as he was with his own. It was that frugal nature, his admirers say, that motivated Greer to develop legislation that ensured road use taxes would be directed specifically to the highway department for road construction. The Colson-Briscoe Act, of which Greer was the chief architect, allocated funds for statewide farm-to-market roads.
With the help of federal funds, the legislation enabled the Department to nearly double the number of paved rural roads in the state within two years. During Greer’s tenure with the Department, the number of miles of paved roads in Texas grew from 22,000 to more than 72,000.
“Dewitt Greer was a man of exceptional honor, vision and integrity,” TTI Deputy Director Dennis Christiansen said in announcing Greer’s selection. ‘All of us who travel the highways of Texas today have him to thank for the prosperity and quality of life those highways have brought to our great state.”
The Texas Transportation Hall of Honor recognizes individuals whose vision and leadership made possible the model transportation system Texas enjoys today. Greer is the second person to earn a place in the Hall of Honor. Frank Turner, the first honoree, was the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, which later became the Federal Highway Administration.