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pretty near to supplying the whole nation with adequate roads.
It would be a most profitable undertaking to borrow the money on bonds for bu.. .ing highways, for the whole indictment against bad roads has not yet been recited.
Still another way in which American roads waste money is in the unnecessary amount of ground they occupy. The average highway here is four rods, or sixty-six feet wide. In the middle Western States much of the ground given up to highways is worth a hundred dollars an acre. Only a small part of this space is actually needed for a roadway, the rest being devoted to weed cultu'r e. These weeds furnish an inexhaustible supply of seeds with w h i c h adjacent farms are stocked without effort on the part of their owners, causing either a heavy outlay for labor to keep the weeds down or a still greater loss from
''amaged crops. In Europe they think too much of their land to waste it so foolishly. They find there that a roadway from twenty to thirty feet wide is ample for traffic a hundred fold heavier than traverses the lonely highways of the prairie States. Robert J. Thompson, U. S. Consul at Hanover, who has been investigating the subject, estimates that in thirteen of the agricultural States of the middle West there are seven hundred thousand miles of country roads. Ry reducing their width from sixty-six to thirty-six feet, 2,500.000 acres of generally tillable land would be restored to cultivation, which, valued at $100 an acre, would foot up the staggering total of $250,000,000. When so many thrifty farmers are giving up then- homes in these States to seek lands in Canada, it does seem as if a form of waste equivalent to furnishing 15,625 of them with a
quarter section each might be worth a little earnest consideration.
Even this is not all the story, by any means. Rack of it all are the still greater losses of the farmers who are unable on account of bad roads to Irani their crops to market when prices are highest. In a paper read before the American Road Builders Association at Indianapolis last December, Mr. Page bruised the pocket nerves of every fanner in Indiana by reminding them that in 1909 prices of wheat in Chicago ranged from 99l/l cents to $1.60 per bushel, the lowest price being reached in August when the roads were at their best, while the top prices were attained when the roads were practically impassable; that the State's wheat crop that year being 33,124,000 bushels, every advance of one cent per bushel meant a gain in the value of the crop of $331,240, while an advance of one cent a bushel on the corn crop aggregated $1,965,200. Thus they could see what they lost by not having roads upon which they could haul a load to market at any time.
Indeed, if all the indirect losses were counted in, it is not unlikely that the grand total properly chargeable to a lack of suitable roads would be somewhere near a half billion dollars a year. Nor is this all. Aside from any question of money is the isolation imposed by bad roads. Churches, entertainments, and agreeable neighbors count for naught if one is separated from them by a mile or two of impassable mudholes. Good roads mean more to the children than to the grown members of the farmer's family, for they may spell the difference between an education and the lack of one. It has been found that in communities provided with good roads the average school attendance the year round is over eighty per cent, while with bad roads the attendance rarely exceeds seventy per cent, while it may be as low as thirty per cent. The best schools are always situated on good roads, the worst schools on bad roads.
But better things are now in sight. Energetic efforts are everywhere being made to still further increase the annual expenditure for roads, and more especially to reduce the percentage of waste.
As an earnest that the first purpose will be accomplished there are now thirty-two States which have adopted some form of State aid or supervision for road construction and maintenance. New York led the van with an expenditure from State funds in 1910 of $2,500.000, while Pennsylvania was second with an outlay of $1,000,000. Massachusetts spent $750,000 of State money on her roads, Maryland, $350,000, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island $300,000 each, Washington $375,000, Vermont $175,000, Virginia $250,000. West Virginia $120,000. and other States various amounts. California, which at the last election ratified a proposal to
issue bonds for $18,000,000 to construct a trunk highway system, will soon rank next to New York in the extent of her useful roads. In the South they are not spending so much in cash but they are getting good roads by employing convicts to build them. Of the fifteen thousand miles of highways built in the twelve southeastern States between 1904 and 1910 the greater part was accomplished by the use of convict labor. Georgia keeps 4.500 convicts at work on her public roads the year around.
Indeed, no fewer than thirty-three States have laws favorable to the employment of convicts in road building. Unfortunately, though, the laws in many cases are vague, and in still others narrow; so that the plan is actually followed in but eighteen States, though in several others convicts are employed in quarrying, cutting, and crushing stone for use in road building. It has been found that a convict will do practically as much work in a day as a free laborer and that the cost of guarding and maintenance on the highways is actually less than the cost of maintenance and guarding in jail. 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