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authority to contribute from one-half to two-thirds of the money to be expended. Such contribution from the State or local authority might be raised from any source-State, county, municipality, or by local assessment.
Adequate provision should be made for the maintenance of the road when completed. I believe that the expense of maintenance should be borne by the same parties and in the same ratios as the construction, but Federal supervision should require that repairs be made when necessary, with some provision whereby the Government could enforce collections from the other contributing parties their proportion of the expense.
(3) On what character of roads should the amount appropriated. by the Federal Government be used?
Since the total mileage of roads in the United States is reported. by the Bureau of Good Roads to cover more than 2,000,000 miles, it is evident that only principal trunk lines should be considered in any general plan for Federal aid in constructing roads, and in my opinion this aid should be expended chiefly upon through routes and upon the portions located outside of thickly settled cities, towns, and villages.
A condition exists in Washington affording a splendid opportunity for Federal aid in territory not subject to taxation, viz, through forest reserves, Indian reservations, national parks, and monuments. This untaxed area covers more than one-fourth of the entire State of Washington, and includes some of the greatest wealth of the State in timber, water power, agricultural lands, and minerals.
These roads should be selected by the Federal and State highway board of engineers (see answer to No. 1), and the Federal board might specify the proportion of the total roads that might be built in any particular State. I believe that this ratio or proportion ought to be based upon road mileage to be constructed rather than upon population.
I would not favor any general distribution of small sums per mile to be spent by local authorities, as this would result in a wasteful expenditure without expert supervision and with no permanent benefits to the road or community. Indeed, such a distribution of funds would tend to retard the good-roads movement.
I would be in favor of making these Federal-aid roads examples of excellent construction and proper maintenance, and would therefore require that they be built under the direction and supervision of experienced and skillful road engineers and road superintendents. Such roads should serve to instruct local authorities and road builders in the expenditure of money efficiently and economically, and should be an object lesson in the selection and use of proper materials and the maintenance of the road when completed.
For this reason the mileage to be improved under this act should be limited so that all work done under it may be of high-class construction, thorough maintenance, and stand for the best type of construction known.
Such roads will cost more than the average of State roads hitherto constructed. Our State standard is 24 feet wide, from shoulder to shoulder, with 16 feet in width hard surfaced, and a 4-foot shoulder on either side. I should estimate the cost of such roads at $15,000 a mile at least.
(4) Should the amount appropriated be limited to construction or maintenance or be given jointly for construction and maintenance? I should favor both construction and maintenance in this act. The maintenance might be applied on roads selected as above outlined, that are already built and in fairly good condition, and the construction or reconstruction applied where necessary.
(5) To what extent, if aid is given, should there be Federal supervision?
I believe that in many States highway departments have been already organized on an efficient basis, and that local supervision would assure satisfactory construction and maintenance, but, in my opinion, no Federal money should be paid out except upon certificates approved, after inspection, by some member of the Federal board. (6) Submit a detailed plan workable for Federal and State cooperation in construction and maintenance.
In those States which already have a working organization for road construction I believe that the plan outlined above would work satisfactorily. In this State the engineers of the highway department, after a given road is selected and agreed upon, could furnish plans and specifications for either construction or maintenance. The Federal Government might adopt standard specifications for different classes of work. When the proper type has been selected by the State highway board the plans prepared by the State Department could be sent to the Federal board for approval or modification. The Federal authorities could then agree to pay their part of the cost of the road upon estimates made by the State highway depart
ment from time to time. These estimates should show the actual amount of work done, giving quantities and rates, the partial payments being for 80 per cent of the work already done, the other 20 per cent being retained until 30 days after the contract has been completed.
I would favor the State highway board's advertising for bids and letting the contract subject to the approval of the Federal board. If the State's engineers were given supervision of the work, the Federal inspection would doubly assure that construction was done according to plans.
The views here presented may not accord with those furnished from States where conditions are entirely different, but I believe that the essentials to any satisfactory Federal aid require
1. That plans and specifications be furnished by experienced engineers.
2. That the roads be constructed under skilled supervision.
3. That adequate provision be made for future maintenance of the roads.
A. R. HIRST, STATE HIGHWAY ENGINEER, MADISON.
(1) I believe that Federal aid should be given in such a manner that the distribution of the money available from the National Treasury shall be made in accordance with fixed rules, and it should not be in the hands of Congress or the Members thereof, or in the hands of any officer of the States.
Each State should, in cooperation with the United States Office of Public Roads or its successor, lay out a system of public roads connecting the principal cities of the State, and the systems of adjoining States should be made to join at the State lines so as to make continuous lines of travel. These roads should be limited so that their mileage would not exceed 3 per cent of the total mileage of each State.
Such a system would benefit primarily the counties through which the roads passed, in a minor degree the States through which they passed, and in a still less degree the United States. We believe that each of these three units should pay a portion of the cost of the work, though States should be given the right to pay both the State's and counties' share if they saw fit. I would propose that the county, State, and Nation each pay one-third of the cost of construction on the national system, and that the bill be so drawn that whenever a county or a State, or both, make an appropriation to build certain portions of this system the National Government be forced each year to give its proportion of aid up to the limit of the allotment to each State.
(2) Question (2) is partially answered above. I believe that the local units would be glad to cooperate in financing the scheme of through roads in the proportions named; and, that if they are not so willing, no other body should be willing.
(3) I would propose that the Federal Government should pay only one-third of the cost of the main traveled roads comprising 3 per cent of the mileage, as above.
(4) The appropriation of the Government should be limited to the construction, and the States be required to keep the roads in repair.
(5) I believe that Federal supervision should extend to the selection of the roads and the approval of the construction, both in the preparation of the plans and in the prosecution of the work, but that the direct control of the construction should remain in the hands of the State highway commission, whose members and employees would probably be more familiar with local conditions than any other organization.
(6) The sixth question seems more or less the duplicate of the first question. The plan I have in mind is one with the following steps: (a) The creation of a national highway commission to be composed of (1) an economist, (2) a business man, (3) the best highway engineer obtainable. This commission should be given power to appoint such engineers and experts as proved necessary.
(b) The selection of the main routes of travel by the State highway departments, their coordination by the national department. and the filing with each State of maps showing these roads.
(c) The voting of money for improvements on the system by the counties and States, or by the State alone if the legislature preferred. (d) The preparation of plans and specifications for improvements by the State highway commission, and their approval by the national commission.
(e) The letting of contracts or making of other arrangements for construction to be approved jointly by the representatives of the State and National Government.
(f) The construction of the road under the direct supervision of the State highway commission in each State, with sufficient supervisory inspection by the Government bureau in charge to determine that the terms of the specifications were being complied with.
(g) The acceptance of the completed road by the State and National commissions.
(h) The maintenance of the roads after construction by the State authorities in accordance with the requirements of the national commission.
(i) An appropriation by the National Government of not less than $10,000,000 annually for the purpose contemplated, the money to be divided between the States in the ratio of their assessed valuation for purposes of State taxation.
In general, I can see very little justification for national aid for highways, except the following:
(1) It would encourage States that have not heretofore taken part in the movement to enter upon highway construction.
(2) It would create a coherent system of through traveled roads, of interest not only to the States individually, but to adjoining States, and possibly in some few cases, to several States.
(3) It would distribute the cost in such a way that construction might be encouraged because the cost was not all paid directly.
(4) It would standardize highway construction if an efficient national commission were formed, and would lead to better and more uniform construction.
Too many people favor national aid because it seems to give something for nothing, and not because the scheme they suggest is an equitable one, or because more economical results will be obtained. It has seldom been found that the expenditure of special appropriations under Government auspices has been actually economical or that their distribution has been based on fairness or equity. I have no sympathy with the idea of national aid for highways in the form of a "jackpot " for political distribution (such as the rivers and harbors and public buildings appropriations), as is seemingly commonly demanded, and do not believe that the cost of these highways will be any less because the cost is collected indirectly by the General Government. I feel that it is a sound principle that those who get the benefits should pay the larger share of the cost, and believe that any law formulated should be along such lines as will give an approximately fair distribution of cost between the units benefited."
The plea often made that automobiles from other States pass through certain States to the detriment of their highways is not an effective plea to the thinking man, since automobiles passing through a State leave much more money behind than they destroy in the value of road surfacings, and it is felt that each State, as a general proposition, should be willing to build its roads so that tourist traffic would be encouraged. National aid would, however, produce a quickening of this construction on the main lines, and without doubt would be of value in this regard.
Finally, I believe that each State has developed or will develop a highway commission and force of employees who will be fully competent to deal with the details of construction in that State, and probably more competent than any national organization would be
to deal with strictly local conditions. There is room, however, for an organization in Washington to supervise in a general way the construction in which the Government is financially interested, and to give advice as to special problems, to investigate patents affecting highway construction, and to conduct tests and experiments to determine the availability of new materials and forms of construction. This national organization should be composed of real leaders in their especial line, so that it would contain within itself a body of consulting experts who could give the best obtainable advice upon any phase of highway work. Nothing would be gained by forming at Washington a large organization of mediocre men. The national body to be of real value should be composed of men to whom the men in charge of work in the various States could put their most difficult problems with confidence in their ability to help them solve them.
A. J. PARSHALL, STATE ENGINEER, CHEYENNE.
With the limited time it has been impossible to go into the subject very thoroughly. This State does not have a regularly constituted highway commission. It was only two years ago that the State became directly interested in the construction of roads. The work of locating the roads and preparing the plans and specifications and overseeing the construction, which was to be done by convicts, was placed on this office. As no great amount of work has as yet been undertaken, it has not been necessary to form a distinct organization for road work, everything being done by the regular force, which is principally engaged in irrigation work, except when it has been necessary to employ extra assistance for some particular part of it. Consequently no great attention has been given to this line of work, and many of the questions in connection with administration which are constantly before the road officers in other States have not arisen. The suggestions given in this letter are based on personal opinion, rather than an expression of what the people of this State may or may not desire.
1. As to general plan upon which this Federal aid should be given. The appropriation should be spent only on such roads as may be selected by a competent Federal road commission in agreement with a similar State commission or State engineer. The work should be done under the plans and specifications prepared either by Federal authorities and approved by the State authorities, either as originally planned or modified, or by plans prepared by the State authorities and approved by Federal authorities. No money should be paid out except upon the certificate employed by the Federal Government and State. Federal expenditures should be approved by Federal engineers and State expenditures by State engineers. Certificates should state in detail the amount of work done, the amount due, and also that the work has been done in accordance with plans and specifications. Provision should be made for payment as work progresses, with the usual reservation of a certain percentage until the work as a whole has been completed and accepted by both Federal and State authorities. (Will have to be modified in many States on ac