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and its Bearing on
A MOST interesting booklet, entitled "Roads," has 11.. been issued by the Roads Improvement Association (Incorporated), of 180, Clapham Road, London,. SAVA with the approval of the Royal Automobile Club. In a few pages it Sums up the situation and emphasizes the dependence of industrial prosperity and social progress upon systethatic read developinent. Many of the points raised are of such Vital importance I hat we have considered it advisable to include a digest dealing with them and with certain of the suggestions which are embodied.
Adequate roads and bridges are essential to the frce and safe circulation of road transport, upon which industrial efficiency and the social services are so greatly dependent. The mere reconstruction of bad Sections of arterial roads is not sufficient. The traffic requirements of the future must be visualized and a definite programme of road development instituted. • £10,000,000 per Year for Road Developrrient..
The Road Fund has been diverted so excessively that after the payment of grants towards maintenance the sums available for improvement and development are negligible. It is essential to 'create, a national road-development programme and to provide a varialion in the administration of the Road Fund so that at least £10,000,000, in addition to the amount allotted for maintenance work, shall be actually expended each year upon road deVelopilient.
There is a tendency in some quarters to suggest that road development is of small commercial value' and mainly benefits those who are able to maintain private cars. It. requires little reflection to show that this is Car from being the truth. Roadsconstitute a public service, helping every member of the community. Land valuesappreciate enormously with road development, and improved traffic circulation results in immediate benefit to trade as well as to the pleasure-seeker. Politicians who suggest that road development should be restricted in order to provide physical obstruction to the competition of road transport with the railways are unashamedly proposing to sacrifice the resources provided by the community for the public welfare in order to bolster up private conunercial interests.
The erection in rural areas of factories with ample natural light and up-to-date plant operated by employees living in healthy and uncongested areas is dependent upon the provision and Maintenance of adequate roads and bridges to as great an extent as upon water supply, drainage, lighting and other public services; in fact, with the last named it is local needs only that have to be satisfied, but with roads and bridges the service raust be seed throughout the country, as without them those factories are burdened with excessive distribution charges.
The Cost of Traffic Congestion.
The handicap of costly delays due to congestion and needless mileage caused by the detours rendered necessary by weak bridges and lack of direct routes seriously hinders the development of trade, whilst the absence of wide, numerous and attractive roads makes the drive of the motorist in search of health and l'ecreation a nerve-racking and dangerous proceeding. The deadweight burden of fruitless 'transport costs resulting from bad communications 'is eStimated'by experts at between i20,000,000 and £30,000,000 annually, and the costs of haulage are raised by from 15 per cent. to 50 per cent, through inadequate roads and bridges. Some firms working in the London area find that the time allowed for an average call during the day is twice that needed for aimilar work during uncongested hours. Delays to 'private,, vehicles involving needless consumption of fuel and waste of the time of some of the country's' most valuable workers are a further cause of loss to the community. . Great Britain is a country of intensive industrial activity and has special needs that call for the highest development.
How Roads Should be Built..
However good a carriageway may be, if the roae be not of sufficient width to carry the traffic or if it be devoid of a footpath, it is inadequate, and this is the e. condition of thousands of miles of our arterial roads.' The free and safe circulation of traffic demands that' all arterial roads should be capable of a:ccommodatirig• four lines of traffic and provide additional space for manoeuvring in case of stoppages. To allow this; "the width of the carriageway should be 40 ft. wherever possible and certainly never less than 36 ft., whilst at least one well-constructed footpath is necessary. The road surface on curved sections should be banked to enable vehicles to hold their positions more easily .when travelling at a reasonable speed. By-passes must be constructed where necessary to prevent through traffic .adding to local congestion.
Until 20 years ago roads were entirely a charge upon" local authorities, but the rapid development of the.motor.vehicie has changed the general character of traffic, which has become mainly national. Therefore, the State has had to assume a substantial share of the' financial and technical responsibility for the improvement. and maintenance . of the roads, and if the whole of the funds provided by the special taxa:tion of motor vehicles had been used for road development, as was intended, there would have been a vast improvement in the general condition to-day.
• Wrong Administration of the Road Fund.
The regulations governing the administration of the Road Fund have restricted the volume of roadimprovement work that could have been undertaken with such resources as were available. These regulations necessitate the retention in the Road Flied of _sufficient money to cover the whole of the State's commitments for authorized road schemes, many of' which , take several years to complete, instead of authorizing sufficient work to absorb the whole of each year's resources during that year, leaving future liabilities to be met by the revenues of the years au whichthey materialize.
,It is the considered view of the Roads Improvement Association that there is an immediate necessity in the interests of all classes of road user for greater progress in road development, and it is therefore urged that the £10,000,000 per annum, to which we have referred previously, should actually be expended each year, upon the roads, and that a five-years' programme on this basis should be authorized at once. The proposal could be put into operation without aay disturbance of the present national financial policy. Local authorities have powers to raise loans upon satisfactorY, terms to carry out public works, and these facilities could and should be utilized, and the State should bear 75 per cent. of the loan charges. n31