Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bonsal)11

Overland Highway Crossing the Dominican Republic and Haiti

As the Under Secretary is aware the construction of a highway to connect Port-au-Prince and Ciudad Trujillo by a road passable to automobile traffic was undertaken in 1942 as a part of the project to furnish emergency and alternative routes of supply to Puerto Rico and the eastern Caribbean. The Lend-Lease Administration allocated $500,000 for the task and the Public Roads Administration entered into contractual arrangements with the road bureau of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, making commitments of $150,000 and $200,000 respectively. This left $150,000 undivided between the two countries. This would allow for any changes in plans or expenditures that might be deemed advisable.


The Public Roads Administration reports that of the $150,000 allocated to Haiti agreements have been entered into covering $100,000 worth of work of which $78,000 has already been expended. The amount of the original allocation for Haiti which has not yet been allocated is $50,000. Of the Haitian construction there was at first some repair work to permit emergency hauling across a northern mountainous route. Most of the Haitian construction, however, is on a southern route passing near some lakes on the border and closely following a water level with few bridges or culverts. The road has a gravel surface. Part of it is new and part of it is re-construction. The Public Roads Administration anticipates that the Haitian part of the highway will be completed in the first part of 1944. It is not yet known whether the $150,000 allocation will completely finish the Haitian portion.

Dominican Republic

On the Dominican side agreements have been reached for the expenditure of $122,000 of which $40,000 has already been expended. The road is only twenty per cent completed and there remains $78,000 of the original Dominican allocation which has not yet been earmarked. There was some delay in agreeing upon the route of the highway east from the Haitian border to pass through or near Barahona. The route now having been determined, the Public Roads [Page 105] Administration anticipates that this section of the highway which will connect with the regular Dominican roads near Barahona will be completed by the middle of 1944. This section of the highway, which is new construction, will also be of gravel surface. Mr. James of the Public Roads Administration is expected to arrive in the Dominican Republic by November 10 for the purpose of speeding up the work. There may also be a change in personnel contemplated by the Public Roads Administration.


We have definite commitments to the two Governments to complete the highway.
The need for, and the recommended division of the extra $150,000 for this highway apparently cannot be determined by the Public Roads Administration until the construction work is more nearly completed.
As I recall, President Roosevelt recently stated, in the course of a conversation with President Lescot of Haiti, that the highway should be completed.12
Philip W. Bonsal
  1. Addressed to the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius) and the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan).
  2. A memorandum from Under Secretary Stettinius to President Roosevelt dated January 12, 1944, stated that work on the Hispaniola Road through the Dominican Republic and Haiti had been going forward as requested by the President, and was expected to be completed by midyear of 1944 (838.154/121).