Henry Ward began to impact transportation in 1931 when he became the youngest person ever elected to Kentucky’s House of Representatives. He served five consecutive terms in the House from 1934-43. Elected to the Senate in 1945, he served in the 1946 and 1948 sessions.
Mr. Ward left state government, but returned in 1960 as highway commissioner and had his greatest challenge facing him–that of funding Kentucky’s future highway system. He was successful in gaining public support for a multimillion-dollar bond issue that funded the system of toll roads and expressways that are still the foundation of Kentucky’s highway system.
He made significant advances in funding, planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining Kentucky’s highway system while commissioner. He also made an impact on the Interstate system by personally conducting public hearings on the location of Interstate routes and convinced the federal government to locate I-24 through the lake area in Western Kentucky. He helped influence the federal government to provide 90 percent of the funds to construct rest areas on the Interstate system.
During Mr. Ward’s tenure as commissioner, the state primary system of highways that identified the state-maintained system was developed. He established and helped pass the formula for distribution of rural secondary funds and county road aid funds. Also, he influenced the number of miles and the location of the Appalachian Development Highway System in Kentucky.
One of the most important accomplishments of Mr. Ward’s career was that of organizing the 12 district offices. As a measure of his success, the district offices have remained for 30 years. He also helped professionalize the Highway Department by employing experienced young professionals.
Henry Ward has stood for integrity, honesty, and dedication and, through his hard work, has made Kentucky a better state. The University of KTC Test Site is proud to install Mr. Henry T. Ward into Kentucky’s Transportation Hall of Fame.