« PreviousContinue »
Resides the outdoor work is better for the prisoners.
The highly important task of reducing the waste of money actually raised for highway construction is being accomplished through various agencies in addition to the State highway departments already referred to. Foremost of these outside agencies is the United States Office of Public Roads. Organized in 1893 with an appropriation of $14,000 with offices in two attic rooms, this bureau has increased in usefulness until now it occupies a four-story building of its own, which includes within its walls physical, chemical, petrographic, and photographic laboratories, and a machine shop, and has at its disposal an appropriation of $116,000. A staff of twentyfour engineers and superintendents of road construction are employed to teach the art of road building to any community that will take the trouble to ask for their services and provide the material and labor. A favorite feature of the bureau is the "Object Lesson Road Project." This consists in assigning an engineer to supervise the construction of
a short section of road to demonstrate proper methods and instruct local builders. Up to July 1, 1909, 264 object lesson roads had been built in thirty-five States, demonstrating the proper methods of using crushed stone, gravel, sand-clay, shell, earth, bituminous materials and brick. Besides this, the engineers of the bureau give special advice, deliver technical lectures, introduce model systems of construction, maintenance, and administration in counties and study and report on practical methods for a scries of years.
Beside the Government bureau there are several national organizations, such as the American Highway League, which held a convention at Chicago last May. Membership in this League is limited to representatives of State highway departments. Its purposes are to provide a means of effective co-operation between States and to study methods of construction and maintenance.
An organization which is expected to accomplish a good deal is the American Association for Highway Improvement, organized at Washington last November.
Its Board of Directors includes James AlcCrea, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad'; W. C. Brown, President of the New York Central; Louis Hill, President of the Great Northern; W. W. Finley, President of the Southern Railway; I', h". Yoakum, Chairman of the Frisco Lines; Alfred Nohle, Past President of the American Society of Civil Engineers; Dr. E. J. James, President of the University of Illinois; Lee McClung, Treasurer of the United States; John Goodell, Editor of the Engineering Record; Rohert P. Hooper, President of the American Automobile Association; U. S. Senator Lafayette Young, and L. W. Page, Director U. S. Office of Public Roads. The objects of this association are to correlate and harmonize the efforts of all organizations working for road improvement; to stimulate sentiment for road improvement ; to work for equitable and uniform roaW legislation in all States: to promote efficient road administration in the States and the correlation of all road construction so that the important roads of each county shall connect with those of adjoining counties and the important roads of each State with those of adjoining States. The founders hope to make the association a sort of clearing house through which all road improvement organizations may give to each other the benefit of their experience, their ability, and all the facilities at their command.
When to all these influences are added the efforts of the railroad industrial departments, practically all of which do what they can to further the movement for improved highways, and some of which even run "good roads trains" for the enlightenment of their patrons, and the propaganda carried on by such organizations as the American Automobile Association, the Touring Club of America, and the Association of Automobile Manufacturers, it may be seen that the outlook for better roads is distinctly brighter. It would be brighter yet if there were many such public spirited citizens as Sam Hill, of the State of Washington.
Mr. Hill went to Governor Hay and offered to give a year of his time wholly to further the movement for better roads. Finding his offer so heartily appreciated he not only spent the year but several thousand dollars of his good money in the cause. One of the things he did was to pay the expenses of one of the best highway engineers in England to go to Seattle to deliver an address on the subject of roads. Another thing was to pay the expenses of the city engineer of Seattle and of a professor from the University of Washington on a three months' trip to England to study road construction. His efforts are already beginning to bear fruit; for while there were seventeen appropriations for the improvement of State roads in 1909, none of which were connected and therefore were of comparatively limited use, there is now a project under consideration, backed by Governor
Hay, for a State trunk line 1,100 miles long, running from Bellingham on Puget Sound down through Seattle and the southern part of the State to Spokane and back by a more northern route to Seattle, which would accommodate three-fourths of the people in the State.
The present unpardonable waste of forty per cent of the money actually raised for road construction is simply due to the fact that many people do not know what a road is, and, furthermore, they would not know how to build one even if they did know what it should look like. Witness Iowa, which now spends $5,000,000 a year on roads, yet scarcely has a road to her name. Indiana is a close second with an equal expenditure, but a trifle more to show for it. In the latter State waste is made easy by dividing responsibility for road work among local authorities in a hopeless sort of maze so that no one has any power or money to do anything effectively. Maryland, up to 1909, extended the same absurdity to State supervision by dividing authority for construction between the State Geological Survey and the State Highway Commission.
By way of contrast Wisconsin, having adopted the war cry, "A dollar's worth of road for every dollar of tax," is showing how to make money work miracles. In 1907 as v "h as $10,000 was appropriated for the of the State Geological Survey in ex, . .imental road building and in advising local road authorities. As there are fifteen hundred of these local road bodies, the contract was rather a large one. But the Survey engineers did the best they could by addressing public meetings and distributing pamphlets, and by establishing a correspondence school for road builders. In order to make every dollar count they managed to induce some localities to build roads graded to a width of twentyfour feet with a stone surface only nine feet wide. Everybody knew that such a narrow roadway would not answer at all, but after they had tried them they wanted no other kind. These nine-foot roadways answer the purposes of light traffic and they cost but $1,800 to $3,500 per mile, while the 14-foot stone surface, which allows two teams to pass and which is used for heavier traffic, costs from $3,000 to $5,000 per mile.
Every community which reaches the point of determining to have real roads
and raises the money to pay for them does not get what it wants. Some counties in California paid for good roads, or thought they did, but the work was so badly done that the good roads movement received a setback. On the other hand there was Pike County, Alabama, which raised money to pay for gravel and macadam roads, but wisely sent to the U. S. Office of Public Roads for an engineer to build them. lie. found sandclay roads, costing one-fifth of what macadam would cost, better suited to the locality. In Kansas sand-clay roads cost from $707 to $1,183 per mile, which seems to bring them well within the limit required to interest the average farmer in highway improvement, according to the opinion of the (rood Rpads Convention which met at Cleveland in 1909.
This does not prove that sand-clay roads should be built everywhere under all conditions. The true moral to be drawn from the experience of l'ike County is always and under all circumstances to employ a highway engineer to direct operations. Road building is an art that calls for something more than good intentions.
An interesting feature of the highway situation is the passing of macadam construction, for many years regarded as the highest type of road. But the advent of the automobile has utterly destroyed the reputation of the macadam road. It has been found by costly experience that no ordinary water bound macadam is capable of withstanding for any length of time the action of excessive automobile traffic, and in Massachusetts actual count shows that automobiles make up forty-two per cent, of the traffic on the highways of the State. The speeding rubber tires whirl away the rock dust, thus destroying the bond of the wearing surface, then ravel out the*larger fragments of stone. Some sort of binder that will hold material, both fine and coarse, together is absolutely necessary. The question is so important that the American society of Civil Engineers has appointed a special committee to investigate. Various combinations of tar, asphalt, and crude petroleum have been tried in various localities with different degrees of success. It is already evident that a bituminous binder that will work well under one set of conditions will not answer at all under other conditions. The difficulty is to suit the binder to the requirements of the traffic and the climate.
Some other points which should be possessed by a good road according to the concensus of opinion of the world's foremost highway engineers, as formulated in the conclusions of the First International Road Congress, held at Paris in October, 1908, and of the second Congress held at Brussels in August, 1910, are as follows:
The minimum width of roadway should be 19 feet 8 inches.
The camber should be the least that will allow the proper run-off of rain water.
Grades should be moderate, with as little difference as possible between minimum and maximum.
Curves should have as great a radius as possible, but not less than 164 feet. Curves should be connected with tangents by parabolic curves. Curves should be slightly raised at the outside, but not enough to interfere with ordinary vehicles. The view at curves should not be obstructed.
Road crossings should be visible and well opened out. Railroad and tramway crossings at grade should be avoided if it is possible to do so; otherwise they
should be signalled night and day.
Wherever possible tracks should be provided for bicyclists and paths for horsemen.
The sides of roads should be defined by trees wherever possible.
Binding material should be used in the construction of metalled (broken stone) roadways, "special attention being given to determining the character of the binder best suited to local conditions.
Superficial tarring may be considered as definitely accepted in practice.
Emulsions of tar, oil, or hydroscopic salts have a real but not a lasting efficiency. Therefore, their use should be limited to special cases such as race courses.
Cross and longitudinal sections of roads and gutters should facilitate the flow of trickling water and prevent infiltration.
That maintenance is quite as important as construction is well understood in Europe where fourteen nations spend $160,000,000 annually for the maintenance of 994,000 miles of road which cost $5,000,000,000 to build. In the United States, unfortunately, the importance of constant care has not been realized as clearly as it should have been. But in this particular, too, marked improvement is noticeable. New York, which leads the Nation in the magnitude and comprehensiveness of its highway improvement programme, has copied the patrol system that has made the roads of France so famous. The road patrolmen in New York furnish their own horse, cart, and tools and keep the highways in first-class condition at a cost of $75 per mile per year for labor and $25 per mile for material. Oil is successfully used to lay the dust, the plague due chiefly to the automobiles, at a cost of $422 per mile of sixteen-foot roadway per year.
To sum up the situation in a sentence, there are so many hopeful signs of improvement everywhere that it seems safe to predict that within ten years the administration of the public roads will be established upon a satisfactory basis.