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Atkinson, T. R., Bismarck, N. Dak.
Sohier, Wm. D., Boston, Mass...
TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, .1913.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON
Present: Senators Jonathan Bourne, jr. (chairman), Asle J. Gronna, Claude A. Swanson; Representatives Dorsey W. Shackleford, Gordon Lee, and Martin B. Madden.
After an introductory statement by the chairman explaining the appointment and purpose of the joint committee, Mr. Alfred Noble, of New York, was called.
STATEMENT OF ALFRED NOBLE.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Noble, will you kindly state your age, residence, and business?
Mr. NOBLE. My name is Alfred Noble; residence, New York; I am 68 years old and am a civil engineer.
The CHAIRMAN. You are a member, are you not, of the American Association for Highway Improvement
Mr. NOBLE. I am.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you kindly state for the information of the committee what the object of that organization is?
Mr. NOBLE. It is to promote the construction of good roads in any way that it is feasible for the association to do—in any way it can, in suggesting legislation or otherwise.
The CHAIRMAN. How long has the association been in existence ?
The CHAIRMAN. Have you, in the course of your experience with reference to river and harbor improvements and other large engineering enterprises, come into close contact with the question of public-road improvement in such a way as to cause you to form any opinion as to whether or not the improvement of the public roads should rest entirely with the local units of government?
Mr. NOBLE. I can not say, Mr. Chairman, that my experience as an engineer has been in that direction particularly. Being a civil engineer, perhaps I have a better idea of the difficulties and hazards of the good-roads movement on that account.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you come to any conclusion in your own mind as to a concrete plan by the adoption of which the Federal Government could stimulate good-road building in the United States ? Mr. NOBLE. Perhaps I can answer that by saying I have examined
the bill pending before this committee and am very favorably impressed by its provisions in several ways.
The CHAIRMAN. The purpose of the meeting to-night was not to discuss any particular bill that is before the committee. I understand that more than 30 road bills have been introduced in Congress, but we want to take up the question from the broadest possible viewpoint and learn whether it is desirable, in your opinion and in the opinion of the other gentlemen associated with you, to have Federal aid extended to the good-roads movement, to what extent and on what basis?
Mr. NOBLE. I believe it is advisable as the matter now stands for Federal aid to be extended and that it should be extended in such a way as to be in the nature of cooperation with the States, perhaps with smaller units and with a view generally of giving the State authorities the advantage of cooperation with intelligent management, such as the Bureau of Highways of the United States can give it. I think that is a strong point in favor of national aid.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think national aid should be limited to the construction of post roads?
Mr. NOBLES. That, I fancy, Mr. Chairman, is a question of law rather than of engineering. I think it should be extended to the roads the improvement of which will be of the greatest benefit to the communities through which they pass.
The CHAIRMAN. How is that to be determined? By the local interests in these communities!
Mr. NOBLE. I should think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Should the assistance be for construction or maintenance, or both ?
Mr. NOBLE. Both; and I regard maintenance as of far more importance, as matters now stand, than construction. I think the matter of maintenance is being overlooked in a great many States, and that great disappointment will be felt by the public within a few years if more attention is not paid at the outset to the provision for suitable maintenance.
The CHAIRMAN. How would you make a distinction as to which roads shall and which shall not receive Federal aid.
Mr. NOBLE. I believe that will have to be largely left to the local authorities, they being most familiar with the needs of the community. Those are simply general views, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Should the Government in any way assume jurisdiction over the roads in their construction or their maintenance ?
Mr. NOBLE. I should hope that it might be practicable to work out a scheme for joint control, proportioned somewhat upon the general financial interests in the road. If I were going to suggest what seems to me an ideal method, it might be a provision for the maintenance of some one section of the road by the State authorities and another section of the road by the Federal authorities, but I fear that would not be practicable to work out. It would be very valuable, I think, as an object lesson, if it could be.
The CHAIRMAN. You think it is desirable but not practicable ?
Mr. NOBLE. I am afraid not. I have not been able to work out any scheme in my own mind that would accomplish that. The thought I have in my own mind, Mr. Chairman, is the instruction that will be afforded to the road management in different sections having the