Press enter after choosing selection

The Country Road Problem

The Country Road Problem image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The New York Evening Post says: Au interesting addition to the literature of road making is a pamphlet recently issued containing au address delivered last January before the New Jersey state board of agricnlture by Mr. Chauncey B. Ripley on "Improved Roads," and a collection of hi3 views on the making of good country roads and their financia! valué. Mr. Ripley is a lawyer practicing in this city and living in New Jersey, who has, as a property owner, the most unbounded faith in the doctrine that money expended on roads comes back to the taxpayer who expends it. Having been instrumental in secnring the passage of the New Jersey law which permita the chosen freeholders of each county to desígnate certain thoroughfares as "county roads," and to bond the county to raise money for their improvement, he has stirred up the people of his own county (Union) to take quick advantage of this law, and he bears gratdfying testimony to the result. Mr. Ripley defines "a good road" to be "a road available for all sorts of travel and at every season of the year." No one certainly can find fault with a road which can stand this test. The ordioary country road is the exact oppoeite. Indeed, it may be said of it that it is really available for no kind of travel except for a few weeks in a year. If of clay , it can be driven over with pleasnre only in a dry time. If of sand, it affords a, good driveway for only a few honra after a rain, before its packed surf ace is cut up by wheels. Nature very seldom provides a roadbed which is not a mire hole in the spring and a dust bed in the sumiller; and in this country only in recent years and very slowly have farmers coiae to recognize the fact that the cost of makiug"agood road," after Mr. Bipley's definition, will come back to them in any way. Accepting the adage that the condition of a country's public roads indicates its civilization, Mr. Bipley points out that in our country we have been spending our millions on the railroads which were unknown when this adage was framed, and which have had so much to do with shaping the civilization of all countries in modern time. The farmer who would look on any one as a schemer who should teil him that it would pay to mortgage his county for 5 per cent. - of its valuation in order to inacadamize the wagon roads has been easily persuaded of the personal advantage to him of bonding the same county to assist in laying out a railroad through it, and may have invested a few hondred of his own hard earned dollars in the original stock of the road, the ultímate valué of which is so generally mythicaL The railroad, in a word, has been 1 ceptedasanecessity andan unqnestioned benefactor, while the good wagon roac has siinply been dispensed with as a too expensive luxury. Whoever atteinpts to stir up interest in good wagon roads in this country - outside of the few Newports and Lenoxes where lnxnries are demanded as snch - must prepare himself to prove that good roads will pay. The rural property owner is not generally susceptible to the pnrely aesthetic. When first appealed to to assist in road improvements nis reply is, "Let the owners of f ast horses make fine roads." To get him interested he most be shown by practical example that it is to his profit to be able to haal a ton where before he has been able to haul only half as much, or that with roads that are "good" in the technical sense he will find his land in demand at prices which before no one would offer. For this reason the testimony presented in Mr. Bipley's pamphlet is very valuable. Here is some of it: Real estáte has doubled, trebled and quadrupled in value since the construction of telford roads from Orange to Dover, N. J. One of the chronic grumblers against taxes for road improvements in Union county, when asked if he would consent to have the road restored to its old condition in order to save the taxes, replied: "Well, as I shall not be required to pay more than two dollars a year for the rest of iny lif e, it would not be worth while." The travel has increased on these roads tenfold in a year's time. "Since tho law went into affect," says Mr. Ripley, "real estáte values in Union county have advanced nearly $1,500,000, exclusive of property advances in Elizabeth of about $700,000 more." This statement was made in October, 1890, and work under the county road act was begtm only the year before. So rapidly has real estáte advanced since the roads were made better that one of the largest real estáte owners in the county expresses the opinión that the appreciation in future values will cover all the cost of the improvement. Every one who has watched the progress of country road making must have noticed that road impro vemen t is contagious. Every good piece of road is an object lesson to produce imitators. In one district near thia city, where no general system of road mairing has been adoptad, a great deal of such work has been done in the last few years by individual farmers who have been shown by two or three enterprising neighbors what a luxnry and time saver a piece of good road is. In Union connty, N. J., it ia noted that many property owners on the croes roads, which have not been improved under the connty system, are putting these roads in good condition, a brief experience having convinced theni that no roads but good roads pay. Mr. Ripley's chief point in bis address to the board of agriculture was the advisabiHty of laying out, at state expense, two perfect roads across the state of New Jersey, one ciussing the state, as from Newark to Camden, and one running from Cape May to the most northerly point. A good argument in favor of these roads would be the missionary work they would do in setting examples f or imitation; and if New Jersey can secure an executive and a legislatura whose chief objects are something besides the creation of offices and the distribution of salaries, Mr. Ripley's state road schema may soon be a reality.