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

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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 5 of 78)
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On 2173 miles of road maintained by the London authorities (not
including the London County Council), the average cost of main-
tenance is $1675 a mile a year, or that was the cost some years ago; I
am informed it has substantially increased since that time.

No wonder they can keep good surfaces.

The engineer in the County of Lancashire, Mr. Schofield, told me
that he had something over 600 miles of road to maintain, and that
this year he had an average of $1500 a mile for maintenance. Of
course, we must remember that "maintenance" means not only ordi-
nary maintenance, but includes resurfacing and even reconstruction.

Mr. Schofield told me that many of his roads had an average of
from 50 to 75 traction engines, hauling trailers, going over the road
every day. He said they had absolutely destroyed the 6 inch water-
bound macadam road, and that he was reconstructing his roads with
what we would call a telford base and 9 inches of macadam, with the
top 3 inches made of bituminous macadam. To build a road of this
character in Massachusetts would cost from $20,000 to $25,000 a mile
for a road 18 feet in width.

In the towns that I went through in his county he was building
granite block pavement grouted with cement laid on a 6-inch concrete


I can only give a very few observations of the other things that I

In England and France I saw many places where resurfacing was
going on. They were uniformly resurfacing with what they called a
granite, either Belgian or Welsh; what we should really call a trap.


What impressed me particularly was that if they resurfaced at all
they used what we call a No. 1 stone, at least a 2f- or 3-inch stone,
and only about 10 per cent of the finer stone. This was true wherever
they were resurfacing.

In France where I saw them resurfacing they were generally using
stone alone, but in England they were putting on slag, coated with
tar, of this large size, or a 3-inch stone coated with tar.

Their method was to lay this stone, what they call one stone deep,
roll it slightly, and then roll in 10 per cent of No. 2 and some chips
coated with tar.

I saw several of these roads, which carried very heavy traffic, that
were in very good condition indeed, although three or four years old.

In Liverpool I saw one tar macadam road built by the socalled
"Brodie method, " which is to grout the ,top 3 inches No. 1 stone, when
it is rolled, with a mixture of equal volume tar and sand. The sand
is heated to the temperature of the tar, the mixture kept agitated
and poured evenly into the stone until it flushes to the surface, and
then 10 per cent of No. 2, or finer stone, rolled in. This road was
eleven years old, and still in very good order, whereas a waterbound
macadam road, just beyond, carrying the same traffic, had been resur-
faced three times in eleven years, and today is rougher than the tar


I was informed that they never close the road in England or France
for resurfacing. Personally, I must have gone over at least one hun-
dred places where the roads were being resurfaced, and invariably
whether it was waterbound macadam, tarred macadam or tarred
slag they were repairing one-half of the road only and left one-half
over which one could pass reasonably comfortably.

In some instances where they were laying tar macadam they held
the middle of the road with timber. Near London they had a police-
man at each end of the section where the work was in progress, and
vehicles went through in single file. This particular road had so much
heavy travel that each of the four times I went over it I should think
there were at least twenty vehicles, two or three of which were motor
'busses, that had to wait until the other line got through.

The method by which they did this in the country, however, was to
spread their stone or tarred stone, or slag of large size, over half the
road, and roll it lightly, then put on the finer material and roll that,
then spread the other half.

Four or five places where I inquired I found that they did very short
stretches at a time, and at night finished up with a square end.

At no place in either England or France could I discern any line in
the middle of the road where the joining came.

In England the crown was only 1 inch in a yard and the surface al-
most invariably went from bank to bank, wall to wall, or shoulder to
shoulder, so that one would travel over the entire width of the road.


In England, as in France, the patches they were putting onto their
macadam roads were made of tar on all main roads. They did not
try to patch with stone alone.

There is still another observation I would like to record, and that is
that the tars in England seemed very much more lasting and elastic
and more sticky than ours.

I only saw possibly one mile of road in all where the tar surface
seemed to be picking up; in other words, where the stone showed below
it, and in that instance it would undoubtedly be patched at once and
before a pot hole came. With that one exception, their tar surfaces
were practically perfect. There were no pot holes, and when one dug
into the tar it always seemed alive, sticky and soft.

In the past I heard several things that I think are not so now.
One was, that they coated their roads with tar in England and France
and did not cover the tar with sand or dust. This I think is not true;
first, because I saw the sand cover used everywhere, or else a covering
of pea stone and dust. On every road I examined or passed over a
covering had been used. Also I inquired of the engineers of the Eng-
lish road board, and they told me there was only one county left in
England and one engineer now who thought he could put on tar with-
out using a cover. All the others said they had to use the cover to
prevent damage to clothes and vehicles, and most of them believed it
added to the life of the road.

Another thing : On only a very few miles of road was there any of
that mosaic effect that we had been told about. The engineers tell
me that that effect came the first year when they had used only say
one-sixth of a gallon of tar per square yard, and where it had worn
off on the tops of the stones, but when they received a second appli-
cation, with sand covering, it made a blanket coat just such as we
have in this country.

Most important of all, the English roads are constantly maintained.
Remember the money available and necessary on the main county
roads; two counties with $1500 a mile a year.

In Massachusetts we find we can maintain our oil and tar surfaces
most economically by having a team and two or three men constantly
patching from 6 to 8, or even 10 miles of road. If this work is well
done we never have any holes.

Another important consideration was that in both England and
France all road work is in charge of competent, trained engineers, who
not only have technical training, but many years of practical exper-
ience. They stay in office as long as they are competent and efficient ;
it is not a matter of politics. They have entire charge of road building
and road repairs, and employ efficient foremen and workmen. These
facts largely account for the results obtained.


Another most valuable lesson, that most of our cities, especially,
could learn from the practice in most of the cities abroad, and that is to
leave your street surfaces alone after they are built.


When this is impossible, and the street has to be dug up, the street
department re-lays the pavement or surface, and collects the expense
of putting the surface into good condition again and maintaining it
for a reasonable period of time.

Water pipes, local sewers, gas, electric conduits, etc., should be so
located that they can be connected with the buildings without dis-
turbing an expensive street pavement.

If this cannot be done, then the authorities in charge of the streets
should, as I said before, do all necessary work to put the street surface
into good condition and the cost should be borne by the company or
department which required the digging.

Thousands, and perhaps millions, of dollars are wasted yearly in
this country in building roads and streets only to have them dug up
and made nearly impassible in a year or two.

It is no unusual sight in my State to see a street dug up twice or
three times in one year, and it is hardly ever properly repaired. In
consequence, paved streets that would have remained in good con-
dition twenty to forty years, have to be reconstructed in five or
ten years at enormous cost. In the meantime they are in wretched

The time has come, in my opinion, when no one should be allowed
to dig up our roads and streets anywhere, no matter how influential
the corporation or individual may be, without their having to pay to
the department in charge of the road, enough money to put the street
back into its former condition, and keep it there.

Perhaps the best way would be for the street department to collect
a uniform amount for each square yard of street surface disturbed, the
amount to be collected differing with the cost of repairing and main-
taining the trench on the different classes of pavement or surfaces.


In conclusion, I would not discourage any "good road" movement
in this country, but we must go at it in a proper and scientific manner
and know what our problem is before we tackle it, then proceed in a
businesslike manner to build our roads.

We must realize the enormous amounts of money involved, and we
must also realize the tremendous amount of money that is required
to keep the roads in good condition after they are built.

In my opinion we have engineers who can do as good work in this
country as anyone has done abroad. We can build equally as good

We may even learn to build them better, but we must realize that it
requires education, skill, intelligence, and experience, and that con-
stant maintenance is absolutely essential.

Maintenance begins the day the road is built, and continues as long
as it is used, and the money for maintenance must be provided as well
as the money for construction, or we shall find that the bonds issued to


construct our roads still remain to be paid while the roads have passed
away in dust long before.

The money cannot be provided nor the roads built at once. If we
are to secure good roads we must all join hands, the town, the city, the
county, the State, and possibly the Nation also, but it must be upon
a carefully prepared plan made by competent engineers, after a full
study of the whole problem. Only by cooperation can our country
secure any comprehensive highway development within the next
twenty-five years.

THE CHAIRMAN: At the present time there is great difficulty in
securing highway engineers, but fifteen or twenty years ago there were
even fewer, and the majority of the engineers now have accumulated
a great part of their knowledge under the tutorship of the next speaker,
who, for many years, built highways in the State of Connecticut, who
is recognized as a highway builder of note, who is recognized as a
good roads advocate, who is second to none in enthusiasm and
energy, who is going through the State of Pennsylvania today,
campaigning for the $50,000,000 appropriation, a man who organized
the Road Builders' Association, and a man whom good roads en-
thusiasts all over the country delight to honor. It is a pleasure to
introduce the dean of the highway engineering fraternity, Mr. James
H. MacDonald, of Connecticut.


Former State Highway Commissioner of Connecticut.

I remember when I was quite a small boy, and that was more than
twenty-seven years ago, my father, who was very religiously inclined,
took me to class meeting with him, and he specially enjoined on me
that at the next class meeting I should have to stand up and speak to
the brethren and sisters. Not knowing as much as I do now about
public speaking and what an effort it is at all times to do so, I con-
sented. I remember that during the week I prepared myself for
the little occasion and when the eventful day came ard the hour
and the meeting, I got up and said, "Brethren and Sisters," and
then I forgot all about what I had so carefully arranged, and a dear
old sister in the back of the room started that old, familiar Methodist
hymn, "Tongue cannot express the sweet comfort and peace of a soul
in its earliest love," and I wanted to hug that dear old lady just at
that moment. I had arranged in my mind some little thoughts on the
subject-matter that had been assigned me, but after hearing the
very eloquent remarks of the gentlemen who have preceded me and
the intelligent interlarding by the very eloquent chairman, I find
myself just about in the same position as at that little prayer meeting.

Truly history repeats itself, and then, to crown all, I have had to
sit and listen through these two sessions and then at another meet-


ing, to all about great Babylon, what someone else has built. I have
no patience with all this talking about the fact that cows in Con-
naught have long horns; unless you've been to Connaught you don't
know whether they have or not. Now, this talk about the roads on
the other side is not borne out in point of fact by all the conditions
that surround the question. I have been across the continent,
I have been in twenty-two States and I have been abroad and I
want to tell you that American engineers have nothing to learn,
either in regard to new construction or care and maintenance of
roads. The chief difference between the two countries is simply
this: we are building new roads and they are keeping in repair the
roads they have already constructed. I have been over many miles
of roads in New England and other parts of the country and found
them in just as fine a condition, in some instances a finer condition,
than those I saw abroad. So that I get out of patience when people
are continually harping about those things that they know prac-
tically nothing about. Within fifteen miles of Paris, it is with
difficulty that you can sit in your automobile. The great trouble
with our people is that we are prone to take the suggestions about
things that someone else has seen as law and gospel and compare
before investigating conditions. I venture to say that had things
been reversed and the people in the old world been transferred to
where we are on this continent, they would not make the showing
that we do here in this great and glorious country of ours.

It is not so many years ago and, Mr. Chairman, you will par-
don this little digression, because I can't help it, that's the Scotch
in me since the little Mayflower landed on our shores and had
her sides washed by the waters of Plymouth Bay not three hun-
dred years ago and what did they find? An unbroken wilder-
ness, rocks and hills and the habitation of no man, and in that
short period of time we have taken that wilderness and made it
to blossom as the rose and to become the granary of the world.
We have made those old rocks and hills to give us greater treas-
ures than was ever possessed by the Queen of Sheba. What we
have done along other lines that go to make a successful and pro-
gressive country, we will do in regard to this good roads matter.
We have just taken it up, that's all.

I am at a loss at this late hour and with the length of the ses-
sion in extending this last remark. When Brother Terry was
talking about the whale story, I was thinking of the old lady who was
quite a crank on interior decorations and carried it to excess, and one
day became a little faint. She reached into the cupboard to get a
little wine to rejuvenate her and by mistake she got a bottle of red
ink and never discovered her error until she had gotten outside of the
red ink. Immediately they sent for the doctor, but when the doctor
came and relieved her by removing the cause of her illness, being
a dry joker, he remarked, "Madam, this interior decoration has
gone too far." Now, I come from the little State of Connecticut


and my subject matter suggests that I be a little careful how far I go
with my little talk here today.

Ten years ago I was in this little zone that this meeting is held
in the sun parlor of the Wayne Hotel. There the American
Road Builders' Association was practically given birth. From
that Road Builders' Association, the nucleus of which was five
men, interested in the wheel, it was the bicycle at that time, have
grown many associations, and I have attended the meetings and
deliberations of nearly all of them, but I have never attended a
meeting where the interest was greater and where the intelligence
in regard to that which is necessary to be done was more manifest
than at this meeting. Nor have I ever been able to see in all of the
deliberations of these contentions, gentlemen like yourselves who
have sat through several hours, with deep interest to learn still more
what there is to be learned.

I come from the little State where they say that Washington
and Lafayette sojourned for a short time when we needed their
assistance. In my travels through the State, which embraced
every town in it, I have been pointed out numerous rooms that
George Washington slept in and I have had indicated to me many
trees that Lafayette sat under and ate his dinner, and after hav-
ing had so many rooms pointed out that Washington slept in and
also so many trees under which Lafayette ate his dinner, until
I come to the reasonable conclusion, that George Washington and
General Lafayette must have spent all of their time sleeping and
eating, and I wonder how they had any time to do any fighting.

The little State that I represent commenced with small begin-
nings. An annual State appropriation of $75,000 was all that
we had. To give you an idea of how the interest has grown, just
before I resigned my office by the will of the governor, owing to the
fact that I had made a mistake in the caption of my ticket, which
mistake I believe I should repeat if I had to do it over again, I let a
contract for $400,000, the largest contract ever let to any contractor
in one contract in this country. The State of Connecticut is very
far from being a wealthy State, and when the last speaker was
enumerating the States, there rose in my heart a feeling of great joy
and pride to think that I had been able to serve my people in that
community for nearly eighteen consecutive years. I am very
glad to know that the people of my State occupy such a proud place
as they do. For twelve long years there never was enough money
placed in the hands of the highway commissioner to do one mile of
even a water bound macadam in any one town. It was the duty of
the commissioner and he gladly accepted the privilege of going
out amongst his people and getting acquainted with them. I can
remember very well one year of having only $500 to spend in each
one of thirty-two little towns and making a survey with a lock
level, and sitting down on the side of the road, computing the
yardage, and letting the contract direct to the officials of the


town. I also remember that this small beginning in these thirty-
two towns resulted in the little towns themselves asking for an
appropriation of $9000 at the next opportunity. It is a delightful
narrative for me to relate.

Not all of you gentlemen here of the forty-one States represented,
come from the great States of New York or Pennsylvania or the
States with a large levy to draw from. There are many States
that have as yet hardly entered upon or made a beginning in State
aid, and perhaps from some of the little things that I may relate
in regard to my State, there may be some thought suggested that
you may take away with you by way of encouragement, and if
there is anything I hope you will feel perfectly free to appropriate
it and I shall be very glad to have you do so.

State-aid for highway improvement came up through introduc-
tion of the State Board Trade. After the passage of the law the
little towns of the State had access given them to participate, not
in accordance with their mileage of roads, not in accordance with
their area, but in accordance with their grand levy, the wealth
of the town as the unit of measure. Almost from the com-
mencement of State-aid our towns began to appreciate the fact
that their roads were not entirely local but general in their use
and a public possession and therefore should be paid from the pub-
lic purse. We saw right away that a wise move had been made
on the part of the State in coming in to assist these little towns
in the construction of these roads that were to be used more gen-
erally than heretofore, for an improved highway always invites
travel. Therefore the appropriation was made on the basis of the
grand levy which is the total valuation of the town. The towns
came in and accepted it. We have been in the road movement some
nine consecutive sessions, our sessions being held biennially. As
Brother Terry says, you may amend your national law without limit;
we amended our road law nine consecutive times and I presume they
will continue to amend the law every two years to meet new condi-
tions while it remains on the statute books of the State. All the
grand levy of the entire State does not suggest that we took up
any extravagant form of construction; only $9,000,000 with a mil-
lion people, with a total area of 5004 square miles and 15,000 miles
of roads, the largest mileage of roads of any State in the Union,
per area.

Today the department has $6,500,000 to expend in that little
State, $3,000,000 of this amount covers an unexpended balance I
turned over to my successor, when I resigned my office as highway
commissioner and a new appropriation of $3,500,000 for the use of the
present commissioner. I don't make the remark with conceit,
but I do make the statement as something worthy of emulation that
that is the largest amount of money being expended by any State
in the Union on the basis of population, $6.50 per capita. Now,
how was that brought about? By considering the condition by which


each town in the State was surrounded and not importing one dollar's
worth of material if the material to be found in that town would
take care of the road question and build a road that would be com-
petent to sustain the travel that the road had to bear, and that is
the best definition I know of for a good road. If it was a graded
road it was put down as a sub-soil job. If it was a gravel road
it was laid in courses with a good foundation. If it was a macadam
road, the material was carefully selected, not only in reference to its
quality, but also in regard to the method of construction employed
and the dimensions of the stone used. If it was a question of drain-
age, all the necessary drainage was put in. The proposition is simple,
get the water out of the road, off from the road and away from it
out, off and away. A well built house must have a tight roof and a
dry cellar, so with a road, it must have a water proof top and a good
foundation. That's the whole science of drainage in my judgment.

A system of fourteen trunk lines was early laid out through
the State, that drained a population of 852,000 of a total popula-
tion of a million people, and went in and out of 132 towns out of
a total of 168 towns. No one knows better than Brother Terry,
who has been right in the forefront of this great movement, who
has fought many obstacles successfully and always with great
courage, that the strongest argument that has been raised against
national aid for our highways is the one that he used when he says,
"Every man wants to have that road built in front of his own house,"
and the nearer you get to that the nearer you will get to having a
unanimous vote. But some people fail to appreciate this fact that
most of the money used in this country in the past for the improve-
ment of our highway system in any State has always been where the
most voters reside, and the isolated farmer the man on the outskirt
of the borough or town who has been paying his taxes year in and
year out uncomplainingly, got scant treatment. It remained for
State-aid to come in and make these connected roads, and in giving
to the isolated farmer access to a splendid road as some return
for the taxes he has been paying. You are assisting the town every

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 5 of 78)