Motor Traffic in Middlesex.
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Correspondence in " The Times."
Sir,—I notice in your issue of to-day's date a letter on the above subject from Mr. E. S. Shrapnell-Smith, the Editor of THE COMMERCIAL Morau, in which my Immo prominently appears. As a rule-, I abstain from answering letters which appear in the public Press, and were it not for the fact that. Me. Shrapnell-Smith has omitted a. most essential fact-or in connection with the matter, I should not reply to his communication.
The figures and calculations set forth in Mr. ShrapnellSmith's letter refer to the cost of road maintenance only. The point-, however, which I desire to make is, that during the last 10 years tho County Council of Middlesex have expended over £1,200,000 on improving and resurfacing roads in the county, which sum is not included in the figures representing the cost of road maintenance quoted by Mr. Shrapnell-Smith. This Sum, spread over the 10 years, represents an average annual expenditure of £120,000, which, with the sum of £80000, the average armual cost of maintenance only for the same period, gives a total expenditure of 2200,000 per annum. This, as will be seen, compares favourably with the estimated expenditure of £90,000 for the years 1913-14, as shown in Table 1 of Mr. Shrapnell-Smith's letter and with the sum of £120,000 par annum, the amount Mr. Shra.pnell-Smith suggests should be spent by the County Council during the current financial year on main roads, The expenditure, therefore, on roads by the County Council for each of the past 10 years has been at the rate of 2200,000 per annum, or £80,000 a year in excess of the figure Mr. Shrapnell-Smith suggests as the ex. penditure to be desired, having regard to the rateable value of the county.
I may add that the damage to roads by motor-omnibuses in Middlesex has been most marked during the year which ended Oil 31st March. 1913, and the annual returns for that year
show that the foregoing increased expenditures took place in connection with the maintenanee. of macadamized roads in the county damaged by motor-omnibus traffic.
There are also other macadamized roads in the county the surfaces of which have been practically destroyed by the said motor-omnibus traffic, and to resurface them with asphaltic macadam, or other materials, the following expenditures are necessary :— Road (a), £39,462 (contracts in hand).
Road (6), £14.000 (work in hand). Road (c), £4,305., (estimated). Road (d), £48,000 (estimated). Road (e), £25,000 (estimated).
In fairness I should hero state that all the roads above referred to were, previously to the extraordinary stress of the motor-omnibus traffic, of a good standard, and more than sufficient for the requirements of the ordinary traffic.
1 gather from Mr. Shrapnell-Smith's letter that his intention was to show that the expenditures on roads should go higher in ratio to the increase in the rateable value of the county. This may be au, but, personally, I cannot see any relationship between either an increased, or decreased, rateable value of a county, and the damages caused to roads by a type of vehicle which plies for profit, but which contributes nothing to the authority whose property it damages to cinch anextraordinary extent.
With regard to Mr. Shrapnell-Smith's remarks in connection with " grants in relief from Imperial funds " it might interest him to know that these grants have, in Middlesex, represented a ??I.-121.U3 quantity for many years past. It is true that the Legislature in 1888 was of the opinion that the revenues then assigned would not only be. sufficient to enable county councils to meet the grants payable under the Act of 1888, but would provide a surplus balance in aid of the cost of main roads and criminal prosecutions, in respect of which, prior to 1888, the Exchequer contributed one-half and the whole cost r.c. speedy eiy . Middlesex, however, since 1904, has had a deficit on the Exchequer Contribution Account., the result of which has been that asum of, roughly, £420,000, representing onehalf of the cost of maintenance of main roads in the county, has been provided by the ratepayers, instead of out of funds which should have been provided by the Imperial Exchequer.
I nun, Sir, yours faithfully,
H. T. WAKELAM, etc., County Engineer of Middlesex. • Comity Engineer and Surveyor's Department, 63, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.
1st October. .
[This letter apreared in "The Times" of Saturday last. The reply is given an the next page.—Ea. "C.M.].