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Advantages of Good Roads

products, advantage, storage, time, crops and permit

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ADVANTAGES OF GOOD ROADS. Good roads are so im portant in the financial, social and educational well-being of a rural community that no enumeration of their advantages is likely to include all the benefits; but a brief consideration of some of the chief advantages of good roads will be of value in determining the amount of money that may justifiably be expended to secure road improvement and in deciding what classes should in equity bear this expense. The principal advantages of good roads, i. e., of permanently hard ones, are as follows: 1. Good roads decrease the cost of transportation,—at some seasons of the year considerably, but at others only a little. This item will be considered more fully later (see § 4-9).

2. Good roads permit the cultivation of crops not otherwise marketable. This advantage results in extending the area devoted to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and is most effective in the vicinity of a large city.

3. Good roads give a wider choice of time for the marketing of crops. In some instances good roads permit the crops to be mar 3 keted when the labor of•production is less pressing; but this advan tage accrues only to the producers of imperishable crops, and is not of great importance, since the labor required to market the product is small in comparison with that of production.

4. Good roads permit the marketing to be done when the prices are most favorable. This advantage is more important with per ishable than with imperishable products. As far as perishable products are concerned, this advantage is virtually included in paragraph 2 above. As far as imperishable products are concerned, this advantage is important only near a large city, I. e., where the producer sells directly to the consumer. Prices of staple farm products (not garden products) are not much affected by roads, since the condition of the roads is local while prices are governed by world-wide conditions. Writers on good-road economics usually greatly overestimate this advantage as far as the ordinary producer of imperishable products is concerned. If this advantage were

anything like as great as is frequently claimed. producers would store such products at the local shipping point, or in the great city, or at the port of export, awaiting a favorable price. Such storage would also permit the delivery at.a time when other work was least pressing. The expense of storage at the local shipping point is a small per cent of the value of the product. It is frequently, but erroneously, claimed that hard roads would save the Illinois farmer 3 to 5 cents per bushel—an amount 10 to 15 times the cost of the storage. Since producers do not so store their products, it is safe to assume that this advantage of good roads as a rule is not very great. The present method of doing business makes this advantage comparatively unimportant.

5. Good roads give a wider choice of the market place. This advantage affects perishable products chiefly, and for geographical reasons is, as a rule, not very great.

6. Good roads tend to equalize the produce market between different climatic conditions. In the absence of railroad trans portation and cold storage, this advantage might be of considerable local importance; but under ordinary conditions it is compara tively unimportant.

7. Good roads tend to equalize railroad traffic between the different seasons of the year. Impassable wagon roads over any considerable area materially decrease the amount of agricultural products to be transported by railroads, and a return of good roads will for a time congest the railroad transportation facilities. The effect of good roads in equalizing railroad transportation is partially neutralized by the fact that agricultural products are only one of many classes of commodities transported by the railroads; and also by the fact that most railroads transport agricultural products origi nating over a considerable area, and bad wagon-roads are not likely to occur all over the contributory area at the same time; and further by the fact that the storage capacity of warehouses helps to equalize the traffic.

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