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The Administration of the Road Fund.

13th January 1925
Page 23
Page 23, 13th January 1925 — The Administration of the Road Fund.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

4,11PEAKING one day last week at ORingwood, Colonel Wilfrid Ashley, M.P., the Minister of Transport, said that the administration of the Road Fund was a matter of no light responsibility. For the current financial year the estimated gross revenue raised by the taxation of road vehicles is £16,250,000. Prior charges and costs of collection amount to about 11,100,000, leaving a net revenue from taxation of £15,150,000.

The total administrative charges, which include the cost of collection, and also the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Transport in the administration of the Road Fund and in the distribution of grants, amounted to about £400,000 in the financial year 1923-24.

• Out of this net revenue of 115,150,000 about £9,500,000 will go in grants towards helping the local authorities in the maintenance and improvement of Class 1 and Class 2 roads and bridges ; £2,250,000 will be devoted to special grants for the improvement of important roads in rural areas ; and 11,250,000 for other general road works. In addition, about 14,500,000 will be expended (luring the year in assisting important road and bridge works which have been expedited for the relief of unemployment.

Successive Governments since the Winter of 1920-21 have formulated programmes of important road and bridge works to be put in hand for the relief of unemployment, in conjunction with the local authorities. These programmes represent a total expenditure of about 150,000,000, towards which sum a contribution will be made from National Funds (mainly the Road Fund) of about £32,500,000. The expenditure on these schemes up to date has been roughly £19,000,000, leaving no less than 131,000,000 still to be expended for the relief of existing and future unemployment during the next three or four years.

It is well known that under these unemployment programmes of road works many new arterial roads of great importance have already been constructed and opened to traffic—e.g., Watling Street and the Dartford bypass, the Eltham by-pass, the Great West Road (by-passing Brentford and llounslosv), the Croydon by-pass, the important new coastal road in Durham fromEasington to West Hartlepool, and many others both in the Metropolitan area and in the provinces. Others under construction include the Birmingham-Wolverhampton road, the GlasgowEdinburgh road, the Newcastle-Tynemouth road, and the new ring roads at Leeds and Bradford.

It is not fully appreciated, however, how much of the money devoted to these road works, put in hand for the relief of unemployment, has gone towards the improvement of existing roads and bridges. The latest development in this direction is a definite policy for the extensive reconstruction and improvement of some of the Main trunk roads in the country. These toads have hitherto been handled in a more or less piecemeal fashion, but the highway authorities have recently been invited to collaborate with the Ministry of Transport in the modernization throughout their length of a limited number of these main fines of national communication.

It is the intention of the Ministry of Transport that these works of reconstruction on main trunk roads shall be entirely additional to the normal activities of the highway authorities concerned, so as to provide the maximum of employment.

A number of weak or narrow bridges on these roads will at the same time be reconstructed and railway level-crossings eliminated. The new bridges will, of course, be built strong enough to carry every form of traffic, and will be free from load restrictions.

Apart from the main trunk-road proposals, a number of important schemes for the construction of new bridges are being very substantially assisted from the Road Fund—e.g., a new bridge over the Usk at Newport (Mon.), the new Newcastle-Gateshead bridge, the Queensferry bridge across the Dee in Flintshire, a new bridge at Berwick-onTweed, and the viaduct connecting -Essex and Middlesex across the Lea


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