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Good Roads Are Coming

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The roads iinprovement agitation is growing apace thronghout the length and breadth of the land. Progressive ideas generally have a hard time of it at first, but when they get a start they go with a rush. The idea of good roads is progressive and it has been no exception to the rule. But it has passed its babyhood, is now in a vigorous yonth and promises to pass on to a hearty, aggressive maturity. No better evidence of this is at hand than the fact that Uncle Sam hirnself is interested in it. And well he may be, for no reform will do more to add to the general prosperity of the American people than a reform of the ancient and pernicious methods whfeh have made American thoronghfares the abominable nuisances which they nndoubtedly are now. Some time in November of last year Mr. Isaac B. Potter, who is doing more than any other one man to bring good roads from fancy land and make realities of them, wrote to Secretary of State Blaine asking for information regarding foreign highways and highway making. Now, every American consul in Europe has been instructed to f orward to Washington reporta on the subject. These reports will be invaluable to friends of good roads, for they will show what has been accomplished, and will command the belief of many people who are now skeptical as to the good results ■which improved highways are sure to bring. The fact that the state department has taken up the matter gives assurance that the agitation has taken deep root, and the fact that the state governments are passing laws about it shows that it is bearing fruit. The report submitted to the Pennsylvania legislature by the commission recently appointed to ascertain the best way of going about the task of improvLng the highways of the state is of particular interest, as it doubtless embodies the most carefully considered, equitable and effective plans yet offered. The commifision had held over twenty meetings in different parts of the state, and at least 5,000 farmers and others had attended those meetings and given their experience with roads and as road makers. The supreme difficulty faced the road commission in its work of formulating a general road law that was to avoid the burden of a direct cash tax upon the farmers of the state, and yet do away with the pernicious and absoluteiy valueless system of "working out" a road tax. The new law will make the township the unit upon which it will base all operations. It will not propose any special sj-stem of road making, for while some of' the counties have an abundanee of stone, others have none to speak of, and therefore attempts to build macadamized roads in these latter counties would be attended with such an exorbitant cost that it would reduce the farmers and land holders to practical beggary in the payment of road taxes. The best permanent roads suitable to the soil and resources of the various counties will be recommended. The amount of money expended npon the roads of Pennsylvania will exceed $9,000,000 annually. This money, or what represents money, labor, is almost thrown away under the system known as "working out" road tax. What is collected in cash goes iuto the capacious pockets of supervisors, or is paid in wages to road workers, who make a holiday of the occasion. The road supervisors will continue tinder the new law, but with soinewhat restricted privileges, and will be known as township commissioners. There will be three elected in each township. They will be under the direction of a state officer, who will be known as the district supervisor or engineer, and will act in conjunction with. him. The counties will be divided into districts, with an engineer in charge of each. This official must be a practical engineer, whose duty it will be at regular intervals to inspect all the roads in his district. He will also supervise the letting of all contracta for road building, superintend or inspect the work as it proceeds, and pass judgment upon the character of the work before it is taken off the contractor's hands. The township road commissioners will be subject to his orders. All road tax must be paid in cash. In road improvernents or construction the commissioners are authorized to give the first chance for employment to men and teams to persons residing in their district, with whom a striet account will be kept and the amounts earned, at the same rate per diem for men and teams as would be paid others outside the district, paid in cash to those so employed. Thus, while the law makes the collection of cash road tax mandatory, it opens the way for the farmer to get back his money, and more, too, perhaps. With reference to new roads the road commissioners, in conjunction with the county road engineer, will lay out new roads and vacate or change the location of existing roads within the townships on petition of not less than six taxpayers, whenever they, or a majority of them, think it necessary to the safety or convenience of public travel. In case of roads running through two or more town' ships, tuey will be laid out by the road engineer, in conjunction with the president of the board of each township. The viewers in each case will make a report to the next term of court of quarter sessions, with the right of any taxpayer to ! be heard by exception, remonstrance, testiruony or otherwise. The road engineer, in conjunction with the road commissioners, will determine which of I the roads within their respective town! ships shall be laid out or selected princi! paÜy with a view to accommodating ' through travel, yet ha ving due regard to the demands of local travel. The roads will be macadamized or otherwiae permanently constructed in the most approved manner, considering the location and material to be had, in strict accordance with the plans and specifications to be f umished by the county road engineer. All roada are to be built by contract.