History and Milestones
The International Road Federation (IRF) was established in 1948 following the end of World War II, when it became apparent that there was a pressing need for an international organization to attract attention to the growing economic and social importance of sound road infrastructure. Many countries had sustained massive damage to their roads and bridges during the war, while in other countries, the emphasis on a wartime economy, coupled with shortages of gasoline and road-building materials, road networks were neglected and in urgent need of improvement.
New road building technologies and more efficient utilization of highway transport had been developed during the war. However, these were understood and applied in only a relatively few countries. Governments were eager to expand their economies and improve living standards, yet lacked the experience, technology and financial resources to put long-range national highway programs into effect.
The founders of IRF were alert to this opportunity. They saw a chance to inspire a worldwide campaign. As a global organization, IRF was charged with the responsibility to encourage the planning and financing to build national and international road networks, and to provide advice to help ensure maximum return for road investments throughout the world.
Adopted in 1949, IRF’s landmark slogan “Better Roads for Better Living” captured the spirit of those founding members of this unique global federation. Today, IRF carries on in that same spirit, working with public and private stakeholders to build better, safer roads and road networks for a better world.
Key IRF Milestones
1948: IRF is chartered in Washington DC
1949: First IRF Fellowships awarded
1951: First IRF Man of the Year awarded
1952: 1st IRF World Meeting
1954: Establishment of the International Road Educational Foundation
1960: IRF releases comprehensive survey of the Pan-American Highway
1964: Establishment of the Geneva Program Center
1969: 500th IRF Fellow enters the Fellowship Program
1975: IRF begins accepting Governments as Full Members
1984: 10th IRF World Meeting in Rio attracts delegates from 86 countries
1988: IRF congratulated by 40th US President Ronald Reagan
1991: Establishment of the IREF Future Fund
1999: 1st IRF Silk Road Conference
2011: 1,250th IRF Fellow enters the Fellowship Program