Ga.) American Road Congress (4th : 1914 : Atlanta.

Proceedings of the fourth American Road Congress, under auspices of American Highway Association, American Automobile Association, Atlanta, Ga., November 9-14, 1914 online

. (page 33 of 78)
Online LibraryGa.) American Road Congress (4th : 1914 : AtlantaProceedings of the fourth American Road Congress, under auspices of American Highway Association, American Automobile Association, Atlanta, Ga., November 9-14, 1914 → online text (page 33 of 78)
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we adopted that in Massachusetts for roads that were not pave-
ments, it does not apply on the city pavements; I think it ought
to and soon will, it makes no difference whether you use a wheel
or board, without a permit you cannot move anything over the
road that has got more than 800 pounds per inch width, which
is very nearly the steam roller specification; it is just about where
the English traction engine goes. We have got into our law a
provision that no motor truck weighing more than 4 tons with the
load could go more than 14 miles an hour, and no motor vehicle
weighing more than 6 tons, including the load, could go more than 6
miles an hour on iron tires and 12 miles an hour on rubber tires,
and we have recently notified several of the sightseeing omnibuses
that if they exceeded that speed limit on some of our narrow roads,
we would take the licence of the man away and take the registration
of the car away and he could not run on that road. We have got
in our law a provision that nobody could pull anything over the
road with any flange or rib that substantially injures the surface of
the road to any considerable depth. We said that nobody could
move more than 14 tons over the road without a permit. Nobody


can move more than 12 tons over the country roads without a per-
mit. Nobody can collect by law now in going over bridges if they
are posted, in Massachusetts, if they move over 6 tons. The au-
thorities are authorized to grant permits and to specify in those
permits the particular routes to be taken or any other precaution
they desire to take; that the authority in charge of the road, who-
ever it happens to be, with us, the highway commissioner on one
road, the county commissioner on another, some street department
or road commissioner in villages

A DELEGATE : The 14 tons would be on one truck?

COL. SOHIER: On one load.

A DELEGATE : Could they draw a trailer?

COL. SOHIER: Yes, sir. We put another thing in that law,
that anybody that violates the provisions of this law, driver, owner,
or operator, who violates the terms of the permit, shall pay all
the damages and the damages shall be collected and paid into the
fund of the person that has to repair that road. We had a fine,
of course, but that depends on the police force and the police force
will not necessarily prosecute; I don't think we shall, but it gives
us a chance to do it. Any local authority is authorized to limit
the speed of those vehicles weighing over 4 tons with the load, to
6 miles an hour, over any bridge, provided he posts a notice con-
spicuously at each end of the bridge. I have often wondered I
would like to hear some one talk about it. I have always wanted
time to sit down and figure what the man got out of the road and
who ought to pay for it. It is pretty evident to me, or seems to
be, that no one individual in the community, merely because he
can make a living or even employ a workman profitably, should
be allowed to tax the community more than he gets in profit
we'll put it that way if you like. He should not cost the com-
munity more than he gets in profit, because if we have to pay more
in taxes to maintain a road in order to allow somebody to do a
lumber business with a truck over it then he can make in a year,
it is easier for the community to put him in the poor house and
support him there, because it is cheaper. When the automobiles
were turned over on one of our very good gravel roads between
Albany and Pittsfield, main through line, it meant 700 cars a day
going very fast over this little gravel road, that this little town had
borrowed money and built in ten years, with our assistance and in
three years it didn't look like a road. It was holes and ruts and
mud holes. It was a very good gravel road before that, as good as
you can build, but it would not stand 700 motor vehicles going over
that road, and those people ploughed it up; they said "If we can't
use it, you sha'n't, because our bonds ain't paid yet;" and we told


them to fix it up and we would help them with it next year and we
did; we are allowed to put 20 per cent of our vehicle fees, which
amount to $20,000 a year, into improving roads that way and we
help them put that road back in good order, and I think they could
go over it this year and not do any damage; it is coated with oil
and Tarvia. I hesitated at one of my other talks when I saw so
many gentlemen from various States where they do not and are
not dealing with the problems of heavy traffic as we are in Massa-
chusetts, to discourage them by giving maintenance costs, but it
happens to come a little bit in line with what I have been talk-
ing about on truck regulations, and so I am going to tell you a
little something about England where they keep much better ac-
counts than we do of what the cost, as far as they can tell, of motor
bus traffic is. Now an English motor bus is, I should think, just
about the equivalent of any one of our 3J or 4 ton trucks. It
is a double decker; it carries 16 people inside and 27 outside, if I
remember rightly. They have five minute service to a great many
places from 15 to 25 miles out of London. I don't happen to re-
member any further out than Hampton Court. They have been
recently established, many of them, and as you probably all know,
the motor bus traffic in London, if you haven't looked at it two or
three abreast and you wonder where the taxi is going through, but
when you stop on the end of the main street crossing, you will see
ten buses in length and two or three in width awaiting until they
get the signal to go across. They were proposing a speed limit at
Hyde Park when I was in London, and the traffic captain went be-
fore the authorities and said, "We cannot move our traffic if you
give us any speed limit ; we have got to have the foot passengers and
traffic going so they won't interfere with each other, and the traffic
cannot get through if they don't go fast, because 10,000 vehicles
an hour pass Hyde Park corner and they will back up for 2 miles if
we only let them go 2 miles an hour; they go 20 miles an hour when
they get to the middle of the street and never let anybody cut in,
walking or driving or any other way." In Middlesex County you
will find in the Light, Railway and Tramway Journal for August 8,
the damage done to roads by mechanically propelled vehicles,
weight about 6 tons, motor buses I think the 6 tons would in-
clude the vehicle and load Mr. Wakeham, who is the county
engineer, gave the average cost of 16 roads running in and out of
London in Middlesex County, main traffic roads, before and after
the establishment of the motor bus traffic. His roads had cost him
12J cents a square yard a year to maintain as water bound macadam
roads 12J cents a square yard a year, before the advent of the
motor bus. When the motor bus came in, it cost him 25.6 cents
per square yard per year to maintain his roads. He gives the whole
table there and the variation in cost was between 4.5 and 20 cents
before the motor bus, and after the motor bus, between 14 and 42
cents; and one curious thing was that one of his roads, which cost


16 cents before the motor bus, suddenly jumped to 42 cents after the
motor bus. His charge in 1911 and 1912 was 1.2 cents per ton,
per mile going over that road, and in 1911, 1.8; in other words, it
increased because of the motor bus traffic. In his opinion, that is
all the traffic showed it to have increased, but the cost of transporting
one ton or keeping the road up had increased 0.6 cents or 50 per cent
increase for every ton that was hauled over that road, and the in-
creased cost from the motor bus traffic was 4 cents a car mile. Under
the special act of Parliament, they taxed them three-quarters of a
cent, and the Light, Railway Journal was publishing the editorial
to show that the motor buses should be charged somewhere near
in proportion to the damage they did to the roads, if they were
to establish their lines, which again comes back to how much should
the community pay, how much more than the 5 cents of that com-
pany, if it is going to cost the community 3.25 cents a mile every
time that vehicle runs over the road, and I think you will find it
costs usually very nearly 1 cent a mile per vehicle to maintain a
macadam road. You do it somewhat cheaper with oil. I think
that's all I want to say, Mr. Chairman. If any gentlemen will write
to us and wants, at any rate a start at a motor vehicle regulation
law for motor trucks, etc., and will write to our secretary in Boston,
we would be very glad to send them copies of the law that was as
good as we knew how to draft at that time. We have got a wide
tire law applicable to all vehicles, that was adopted without any
opposition whatever from the farmer, but the title of that law was
"An act to regulate motor trucks and other things going over the
highway," and we did not advertise whether it was a motor truck
or an iron tired vehicle drawn by a farm horse, and we got it through
without any opposition, and if we are reasonable in enforcing it and
gradually jack them up and not make them all do it all at once, I
don't think we will have any trouble with the farmers and we will
have our wide tire law. There is a penalty of $100 for each offence.

A DELEGATE: For only using or selling?

COL. SOHIER: A fine of not more than $100; but for any ve-
hicle that damages or breaks the bridges, if the man is violating
the 6-ton law, he has got to pay for the bridge and it* cost $3500 to
repair or rather to rebuild a bridge that was broken by one truck
between Ayer and Shirley, it took all summer and cost $3500, but
in the Richmond case where I said it was $3 on the tax rate, the
valuation is only $100,000 in that town. The bridge cost $1500
to put back; and we have got a great many bridges in my state
that are not designed and were never meant to carry anything over
6 tons. We cannot move a steam roller over them and do not do so
without strengthening them, but a fellow comes along with a 6-ton
truck and a 7-ton load, going 20 miles an hour, and you know what
will happen.


A DELEGATE : Is that a local law?

COL. SOHIER: This is a State law, for the State of Massachusetts,
applicable everywhere.

A DELEGATE : It could be made a local law?

COL. SOHIER: It is a local law authorizing people to make
a 6-mile speed with a vehicle weighing over 4 tons, and we have
authority locally to post the bridges down to 3 tons, if the bridge
is unsafe, and before this law went through, the man could not re-
cover any damages, but neither could we. Now, if he takes ten
tons over one of those bridges and breaks the bridge, he will have to
rebuild the bridge instead of you; that is the difference.

THE CHAIRMAN: I am very much interested in that to show
how the different traffic laws in this country compare with what
they have in other countries. In New York alone the automobile
licenses there run to 126,000 in number, of which 35,000 are trucks,
while in the whole of France, the entire number of vehicles only
amounted to 84,000 and in Germany very little over 60,000. In
the State of New York alone we are carrying a great deal heavier
traffic in number of vehicles and everything else than they are doing
in France and Germany, nearly combined together. I will call
upon Mr. Ricker, of New York, our deputy commissioner of high-
ways, because he has given this matter a good deal of k tildy in this
State. Under our State law, there is now a provision that no truck
company or sight seeing cars or any trucking for profit outside of
private business can go into existence without procuring a certificate
from the public service commission of New York, putting them in the
same category as any other transportation company. There is a
large number of applications for permits in our State and we are
now considering the terms upon which those permits shall be granted.
I have the pleasure of presenting Mr. George A. Ricker, first deputy
commissioner *of New York.


First Deputy Commissioner of New York

As Commissioner Carlisle has said to you, we have the problem
of what to do to protect the property, the roads in New York State,
from the unusual, perhaps we might say the cruel and unusual
punishment that will be given them by the motor trucks. In the
densely populated section of the eastern part of the State, the motor
truck is very prevalent. Even where electric railroads are operated,
in the roads or beside the roads, the motor trucks are running ap-


parently with profit because they continue to run and multiply in
numbers, even in competition with electric railway service. Now,
these cars weigh all the way from 5 to 15 tons, and they run at con-
siderable speed. The public service commission is hearing appli-
cants who desire permission from them, as they are now classi-
fied as common carriers, to operate over our highways. As a rule
these cars you are familiar with them run on four wheels; they
have hard tires and they run frequently and at considerable speed.
I have participated with members of the public service commis-
sion at these hearings and have brought out the facts regarding
weights, sizes of wheels, loads, speeds for the purpose of selecting
data that will enable the commissioner to make rules for the pro-
tection of the road. These lines are increasing with such rapidity
that it is a very serious problem with us and a very pressing problem.
It is not one that we have got to think about for the future; it is
with us now, and we are anxiously looking for information from all
sources as to the limitations that we shall put upon these cars,
as to the loads that they may carry, as to the size of wheels, width
of tire and speed. It is no unusual thing to see cars running at
a speed of 25 miles an hour with heavy loads, people hanging on
the running board, and on one of the hearings, I know an Italian
who ran the car and when asked what he did when the seats were
all full, he said "We sat them on top." Now, that is a pretty serious
problem. In addition to passengers, they carry heavy loads. Of
course the difficulty Colonel Sohier has spoken of with regard to
bridges is also very serious. Now, we cannot exclude those people
from the road; they apparently have the same rights any other
citizen has to use the roads, and the people in the localities in which
the lines operate want the buses, they are a great convenience.
They patronize them liberally, and these buses run all the year
around, too, though naturally in the winter time they are not as
popular as at other times. A point that has arisen in these hear-
ings is on the amount of money that they shall pay, if any, towards
the upkeep or the cost of construction. Where our electric lines
run on improved highways, they are required to pay, as all railroads
have to with us, for the pavement between their rails and 2 feet
outside. Now, the law says that these buses, these bus lines,
may be required to reimburse the railways for some portion of that
expense which the railroads have already contributed to the pave-
ment. Now, that is a very vexing question. Most of the applicants
who wish to run these buses have about enough money to buy a
bus and a little left over for a few trips for gasoline; when that is
exhausted, then they depend upon their daily receipts. If they
are to be saddled with any part of the expense of the pavement,
it shuts them out. I am hoping that the public service commis-
sion may do something of that sort. I noticed in the car before I
came up a paper entitled "What the Automobile has done for Good
Roads." I think somebody ought to write a paper on "What the


Automobile is doing to Good Roads/' especially the automobile
truck. That there is need for more durable types of pavements,
of course we all know very well, but how in the world to meet the
unreasonable use of the roads that is brought about by these heavy
trucks, is the problem that we are studying, and this problem has
come up so suddenly that we hardly know where we are at. Any
thoughts that any of you gentlemen have growing out of your ex-
perience with them, will be very gratefully received.

THE CHAIRMAN: We will be glad to hear from any of you gen-
tlemen in relation to this matter. The matter is now open for

MR. WASHINGTON: It may interest you and other gentlemen
here to know that this question is such an important one, that
I find that abroad it has been given attention for more than a
century, and I found the other day, in looking over the road his-
tory of some Eurpoean countries, traffic regulations as to the weight
of vehicles, the loads they might carry and the width of tires, made
in 1809, and as far as I can gather, there were some regulations
even previous to that period, so we can see this is a question where,
in older countries, they were at the point we are at now and realized
the importance more than a century ago of regulating tires and
saving the roads from undue wear and unnecessarily heavy loads,
greater than they should bear, and in nearly all the prominent
countries of Europe, they have drastic and severe traffic regulations
limiting the weight, as Colonel Sohier said, per wheel and per inch
of tire, and in other words sub-dividing it, in some cases, on the
unit basis of width of tire, but limiting the load on a given vehicle.
Most of the vehicles in France and Italy are two wheeled vehicles;
you hardly ever see a four wheeled vehicle except as a victoria or
automobile, all the heavy hauling is done in carts. I have seen
a cart of six horses harnessed tandem and I have seen in Paris one
with eight horses to it hauling probably ten tons of stone. Some-
times the beds are 12 to 18 feet long, and they pile up casks and
building stone on them, and in the ports like Genoa, enormous
loads of foreign products of all kinds, and of course very frequently
to meet those conditions in the cities they have stone trucks and run
those vehicles upon cobble stone blocks 18 or 24 inches in diameter
and sometimes 12 inches thick when they are put down, and I have
seen cases where they seemed to have been worn down 4 inches and
they took them up and turned them. That is possible in European
cities where they use their horses tandem, but if you had them har-
nessed as we harness them, abreast, the horse would be on the smooth
or slippery part of the street, not out on the track, and he could
not get power enough to pull his load. This is only a trifling con-
tribution, but it may be interesting.


DR. CLUCK (of Pennsylvania): Has it never occurred to any
of these gentlemen present that possibly our regulations and li-
cences are not in accord with the road? We in our section have
quite a number of motor trucks operating in different vocations.
Just the other day I had occasion to pass one, and after inquiring as
to the load it carried, I was told it carried 12 tons. We all know
that no public highway has been built or is even being built now
that will stand such a traffic as that, but as the gentleman has said,
large traffic has become a habit, but are these motor trucks, auto-
mobiles and all these new fandangoes paying the share of the rev-
enue they should pay for the use of the highway? You take an
automobile, and we have heard a great deal about them during
this week, the gradation, in my judgment, is not in comparison
to the amount of damage to the roads they use. If a light buggy
was placed on a macadam road, such as I saw in this city today, it
would run for a thousand years and the road would still be there.
They told me that road I saw today was put there a year ago, and
it is a total ruin. There must have been something to do that,
and something more than the ordinary travel these roads were
originally built for. That road, I was told, cost the people of this
county here about $17,000 per mile. That is an enormous amount
of money to spend on one mile or so of road and have it destroyed
in one year. My opinion is this, that license laws as fixed by all
the States as far as I have read, graduate by horse power; they
say for a certain number of horse power you shall pay $10,
over and above that, $15 or $20, and they go on up to a certain
standard. This last act I have not read and do not know what it
is, but I believe the system is wrong; I think the system ought
to be based on the size of the tire, starting with possibly the smallest
rubber tire that is used on either steam or gasoline vehicles; it should
start with a fixed price, possibly $10, and graduate for every half
inch of tire space instead of horse power, fixing your price so that,
while you are not going to drive the business away from you, gentle-
men, that's not the idea, but they ought to pay in comparison to
what they destroy. No man runs an automobile or truck for fun;
no man displaces his horse for fun, he does it for gain, that is every
man's object in life, the gain he gets from it, and that is the reason
he runs it. The driver of the pleasure automobile drives that auto-
mobile because he can afford to drive it, or else he would not drive
it. The ordinary business man drives an automobile because he
can make more money that way than by going in steam cars or by
horse. My idea is this; place a graduated scale of licenses to the
inch or half inch or even the quarter inch bearing surface, and then
the next remedy I would suggest is this; instead of the funds being
paid into the State treasury as they are, they should come back to
every county and local municipality where the licence was originally
paid from, so that if a bridge breaks down in a township where the


public is already taxed, that comes back, in addition to the fine that
the gentleman has well said should be imposed.

MR. SMITH (of New Jersey): Wouldn't it be a better plan in-
stead of taking the measure as the gentleman mentioned, of the
width of the tire for the license tax, wouldn't it be better to take
the combined weight and speed of the car, because those are the
ingredients that do the harm, while the width of the tire does not
determine anything. For instance, if you take the size of tire, a
Ford car would pay a great deal less than a Cadillac car, which
carries a 5-inch tire while the tire of the Ford car is very small and
very narrow. I think the three things combined, the size of tire and
weight and speed are the three things that should be put together
and made a composite from which we should draw the figures, and I
think the license should be a federal license and returned to the
counties or States in proportion to the number of roads they have
in that county; they would be paid right back to the State and the
State in turn would pay the money to the counties and that would
be an inducement to the counties to have more roads. I believe
our association, the A. A. A., are working for a federal licence law.

MR. WRIGHT (of New York): I believe that in New York any
person with a load of over 8 tons takes his chances on crossing a
bridge, but no public official cares to take advantage of that law.
Everybody feels that the bridge ought to be able to carry any reason-
able load, whether the vehicle is an automobile truck or anything
else of that sort.

THE CHAIRMAN: If there is no further discussion, Mr. Smith of
New Jersey wants to speak on the subject of National Roads.



This matter of the Quebec-Miami highway was to have come up
last Monday, but there has been such a crowd of other matters and
papers that we had to give way. I am sorry we haven't got a larger
number here today, because I feel that this is a subject that maybe
some of you don't know about and will be very much interested in
when you do know about it. The Quebec-Miami highway is some-
thing that is known to very few people except in the East, and I
doubt whether some of the Western people have even heard of it.
It occasionally crops out in the papers but nobody knows just what it
means. For the first year after the formation of this commission
which created the Quebec-Miami idea, it was a joke, almost, to think
that there could be a road running from the upper end of our States


to the south; practically it is an international road, taking in
part of Canada, and is partly governed by a board of governors
who are Canadians, and it runs down through the Eastern States
and the District of Columbia to Florida as well as through a con-

Online LibraryGa.) American Road Congress (4th : 1914 : AtlantaProceedings of the fourth American Road Congress, under auspices of American Highway Association, American Automobile Association, Atlanta, Ga., November 9-14, 1914 → online text (page 33 of 78)