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The class of roads to be built I will say that with 27 years' experience in building macadam roads and the coming of the automobile has convinced me that the cheapest road in the long run, maintenance considered, is the concrete road. The automobile has made the macadam road too expensive to maintain.
U. G. REIMINGER, SIOUX FALLS.
My notion in regard to Federal aid on road building throughout the United States is that this aid should be in ratio to the amount of money devoted to the building and maintenance of roads by the various States and counties, and while a statement as to the aggregate amount of funds provided by each of these three sources would be arbitrary, yet I believe that a division requiring approximately 50 per cent of the construction fund to be furnished by the county, 25 per cent by the State, and 25 per cent by the Federal aid would be a fair division. I put the greater part of this burden, or expense, on the county for the reason that the greater part of the direct results of better roads inure to the counties or local communities.
I am reasonably well acquainted with road conditions in Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota, and believe that public sentiment would be decidedly in favor of joining hands in a movement of this kind.
Funds appropriated by the Federal Government should be used on roads which have been graded and thoroughly bridged, and it is on the building of permanent bridges that I would lay especial stress. I do not believe it is possible to build a permanent road, and I do know that if the bridges are substantially built, preferably of concrete, that then a systematic method of maintenance kept up for a period of years will result in a perfect roadway, so far as natural conditions or materials will permit; and as dirt or wagon-road building is very similar to railroad building, one can readily reconcile the idea that maintenance is the one thing that will keep it in repair.
This last statement answers your question No. 4, as to whether a Federal appropriation should be limited to construction or maintenance. The big number of stretches of road which have been well constructed and then have been neglected and in a comparatively short time have gone to ruin, should be a sufficient answer against the idea of construction upon the part of the Federal Government unless there is ample provision for the continued maintenance or care of the road after it is once brought to a satisfactory grade.
As I understand it, in the old country roads are kept in good con dition by means of a road patrol, and something of that kind should be adopted in this country. In fact, I think the greatest step the Federal Government could take would be to provide a road patrol for those roads which had first been permanently bridged and then graded by county or State authorities. This last statement also answers in great part your paragraph 5.
O. B. COLQUITT, AUSTIN.
I have some doubt as to the wisdom of the Federal Government participating in a matter of this kind, but if it does, I think it should
supplement the efforts of local authorities. In Texas good-road building is under the jurisdiction and control of the commissioners court of each county. Our law provides for the voting of bonds by counties and by precincts in counties. The State does not have supervision or control over the building of good roads in Texas. If the Federal Government engages in good-road building, or makes appropriations for this purpose, laws should be passed adequately protecting the proper expenditure of such money, as a matter of course. I think the local or county authorities, in most instances, will be glad to cooperate with the Federal or State Government in the building of good roads. This answers your first and second inquiries.
No appropriation by the Federal Government should be applied, except in the building of a first-class road, and if the Federal Government, as I have already stated, engages in or appropriates money for the building of good roads, one of the conditions should be that the road shall be kept in good condition by the authority having jurisdiction and control over the same. It follows, therefore, I believe, that if the Federal Government appropriates money for the building of a first-class road, provision should be made for maintaining it as such. This answers your third and fourth questions.
You ask in your fifth question to what extent, if aid is given, should there be Federal supervision. Here comes the entire trouble of Federal appropriation or interference. According to my ideas of local self-government, the largest powers compatible with good government should be vested in the local authorities, and no jurisdiction ought ever be given to the Federal Government over public highways belonging to the people of a county. To do so would cause friction, and ultimately submerge local self-government into Federal authority, I fear.
In your sixth question you ask me to submit a detailed plan workable for Federal and State cooperation in construction and maintenance of roads. This I have not the time to do. The Democratic platform of the State of Texas calls upon the legislature to pass a bill creating the office of highway engineer, for the purpose of cooperating with county authorities in the laying out and construction of first-class roads.
If the Federal Government does anything whatever, I believe it should repose confidence in the State government, and let its help come as an encouragement and aid to local authorities in the building of good roads.
O. E. DUNLAP, PRESIDENT CITIZENS' NATIONAL BANK. WAXAHACHIE.
(1) I do not think there can be inaugurated a practical general plan, upon which Federal aid can be given.
(2) If such a plan should be adopted I think the counties through which such highway passes should contribute 80 per cent of cost of
(3) Only cardinal, first-class roads should be built.
(4) The appropriation should be confined to construction.
(5) I think supervision should be vested in State and counties, and not Federal supervision.
(6) I can not conceive of a practical plan of cooperation between State and Federal governments for the building of highways. The
vast area of our Government, I think, precludes any feasible plan for Federal aid in building roads. A law that permits counties to subdivide themselves into road districts, for the purpose of issuing bonds in such districts to construct roads or pikes, in my opinion, is the most practical method for the building of highways. Our State enacted such a law four years ago. Since its passage this (Ellis) county has organized nine road districts. The aggregate issue of district road bonds under said law, within a little more than three years, is $980,000. Two hundred and sixty miles of good gravel pikes and cement culverts have been completed. We have sufficient money left to build 100 miles more of good pikes. The rate of taxation varies; in some districts it is 22 cents on each $100 of taxable property; in the highest the rate is 50 cents. This is not a heavy tax. Our citizens are universally pleased with the result. This is purely local self-government, with the small unit of the road district as a basis to work from.
ROBERT J. POTTS, DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL ENGINEERING, TEXAS AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE, COLLEGE STATION.
(1) If Federal aid in road building is to be given at all, I believe that it will be best to give the aid to the State through its State highway department, to be applied to certain trunk-line roads, more especially those of an interstate character. It should take the form of part payment on the total cost of making these roads, the State being required to bear the remaining part of said cost. The roads to be thus improved should be selected by the State highway department, and the character of improvement should be specified by the said State department, but both these decisions should be passed upon and approved by the Federal authorities before aid is given. In general, I believe that the same relations should exist between the National department and the State department as now exists between the State departments and the county or township authorities in States where direct money aid is given for road construction.
(2) Theoretically, the proportion of cost paid by the Federal Government and by the State government, respectively, should be the same as the proportion of travel coming from outside the State and the travel entirely within the State. It would clearly be impossible to follow this rule in practice and some arbitrary division would therefore be necessary. I would suggest that the Federal Government pay one-third the cost of such roads as may be selected for the national highways. I believe that the State and local authorities in Texas would be willing to meet the remaining two-thirds of the cost of all roads thus selected.
(3) The character of the road surfacing must necessarily vary with local conditions. In my opinion it will be proper to spend the Federal appropriation on any kind of surfacing upon which it is proper to spend local or State money. The idea must be to obtain the best dollar's worth of road in each case. This will require some form of asphalt macadam in some locations, water-bound macadam in other locations, gravel roads in many localities, and sand-clay roads on a very large mileage of roads throughout the South and the Mississippi Valley country.
(4) Of the amount appropriated, a portion should be for construction and a portion for maintenance. The Government's aid in building a road should in every case carry with it an obligation upon the States and communities to maintain the road. In order to show good faith in such an arrangement the Government should share the burden of maintenance. I would suggest the same cooperative arrangements for maintenance as are made for construction.
(5) If Federal aid be given, Federal supervision should at least go far enough to insure proper economical expenditure of the money in the various States. The Federal department should have authority to immediately withdraw the appropriation from any State or community where the quality of work does not come up to the standards specified. All plans, specifications, and materials should be passed on and approved by the Federal department. Beyond this, I think that the work of laying and building the roads can best be done by the State highway departments. This will have the added good effect of encouraging the organization of an efficient highway department in every State.
(6) In addition to details already set forth, I would suggest that no State should be entitled to Federal aid until it has organized a competent State highway department. Initiative for the improvement of any road should then come from the people of the State through its State highway department. The State highway department would make approximate surveys and estimates of cost and determine the portion to be borne by the Federal Government. They would then apply for an appropriation for said improvements. Should the Federal department be able to comply with the request of the State, the State highway department would then make a detailed survey, prepare complete plans and specifications for the work, and submit these to the Federal department. If these are found satisfactory to the Federal department, the work would be advertised and let in the usual way, and the Federal Government could pay its proportion of the expense to the State government upon receiving satisfactory evidence that the State had paid its part.
D. T. PERRY, SUPERVISOR OF HIGHWAYS, WINDHAM COUNTY, WEST BRATTLEBORO.
(1) The general plan should be cooperative by Federal Government, the State, and the township or county in which the work is to be done.
(2) The plan should require the State and counties to contribute equal amounts with the Federal Government for road work. I believe local authorities would enter into such an arrangement without hesitating.
The benefit accruing from such an arrangement would be to foster a keen interest of all parties concerned, and especially the local authorities.
(3) The character of roads built with Federal aid should be in keeping with the locality and the amount of traffic to sustain.
The specifications should be flexible to fit various conditions rather
than a set type.
To the end that roads built in the back district need not be as expensive as the more important trunk lines.
(4) The amount appropriated should be available for maintenance and construction, with maintenance of first importance.
(5) The immediate supervision of this work should be under the State management. Logically, the State could better supervise. because of locality and with more knowledge of local conditions of labor and material available, and possibly could act in better accord with communities within their State than could those from outside. The Federal Government, however, should act in an advisory way, as it might appear for the general good of the work.
(6) Vermont State road department is already well organized, and could take charge of such work, as could many other States who already have State road organizations.
WILLIAM J. ROBERTS, STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSIONER, OLYMPIA.
I am not prepared to express an opinion on the advisability of giving Federal aid in road construction, since the policy of the Government should be determined by Congress and the President, and the desires of this State should be expressed by the legislature and the governor or by our Senators and Representatives in Congress.
However, there are a few principles to be observed in outlining any system of highway construction if substantial benefits are to be secured by such system.
Specifically answering your questions, I would reply as follows: (1) As to a general plan upon which this Federal aid should be given.
In my opinion, no Federal aid should be granted except upon roads that have been adopted by a competent Federal road or engineering board in conference or agreement with a similar board of like character in each State, and these roads should be well-selected trunk highways.
The work to be done in a given State should be carefully outlined, plans and specifications prepared by the State department of roads, and approved by the Federal department of roads.
No money should be paid from the Federal Treasury except upon the certificate of some competent engineer, approved by the Federal department, specifying the amount of work done, the amount of money due, and stating that the work to be done under the plans and specifications has been completed in accordance therewith. Provision should be made for partial payments, with proper reserves, as is usual in most contracts.
(2) To what extent the plan should require the State or local authorities to contribute to the amount of money appropriated; and to what extent you think your State or local authorities would be willing to cooperate with the Federal Government?
My opinion is that the best results are secured when there is some form of self-aid. Hence I should require each State or local