In the 19th century, most Mainers agreed that the state’s rural roads were in terrible condition. The rural road districts in the rural towns charged with maintaining local roads were ineffective. Money and skilled leadership were needed but rural towns were unwilling to challenge the existing systems or to enact town-wide taxes to pay for the construction of better roads.
Beginning in the latter decades of the 19th century, a reform movement developed, called by many the “Good Roads Movement" which was part of the amorphous Progressive movement. The "Good Roads Movement" wanted to use the powers of Maine's state government to encourage towns to build and maintain their roads in a professional manner. They wanted a State Highway Commission to subsidize the construction of roads that towns built that met state standards. This movement was supported by the League of American Wheelmen and dairy farmers who needed to get their perishable milk to the railroad stations. In the first two decades of the 20th century, assisted by the increasing numbers of automobiles on the roads and a tax on gasoline, governors were successful in reforming how towns built and maintained roads.
Webb, Lee, "“Getting Maine Out of the Mud” The “Good Roads” Movement in Maine during the Progressive Era" (2018). History Student Scholarship. 1.
pre-print (i.e. pre-refereeing)