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Economic Value of a Gravel Surface

road, earth, annual and advantage

ECONOMIC VALUE OF A GRAVEL SURFACE. The value to a community of covering an earth road with gravel is a subject the discussion of which leads different persons to widely different conclusions, these depending upon the point of view and upon the data assumed.

The advantage of a gravel surface over one of earth is that the hard and impermeable surface of the former is equally good at all seasons of the year. The financial value of a road which is good at all seasons of the year varies greatly with the locality and the occupa tion of those who use it. Near a large city such roads are nearly indispensable to dairymen, fruit growers, and truck farmers; but permanently hard roads are not of great financial advantage to grain growers and stock raisers, except in the immediate vicinity of a large city. A road which is uniformly good at all seasons of the year is of some economic advantage to a farming community, since it permits hauling to be done at times when other work is impossible, and since it makes possible the marketing of commodi ties when the price is most favorable. It is impossible to compute the money value of these factors; but, in general, it is not very great (see 4-7). The chief advantage of a road good at all seasons of the year is its effect upon the social life of the rural district (I The amount of a load that can be hauled on an earth road is often determined by the grades rather than by the nature of the surface; and unless the grades are light, the maximum load for a gravel road is not much greater than that for a dry earth road.

Therefore, before adding a gravel surface to an earth road, the gradients should be carefully studied with a view of deriving the utmost benefit of the improved surface by securing easy ruling grades (see 71).

It is well to remember that under certain conditions a gravel road is neither so firm nor so durable as a first-class crushed-stone road, but that the gravel road makes an excellent foundation for a subsequent surfacing of broken stone.

The cost of the improvement is the sum of (1) the annual interest on the cost of construction, (2) the excess of the annual cost of maintaining the gravel road over that of maintaining the earth road, and (3) the annual payment necessary to accumulate a fund sufficient to make periodic repairs, i. e., to add a new surface at intervals. The money spent in road improvements is to be con sidered as an investment which will return annual interest in the reduced cost of transportation and in the greater freedom of traffic and social intercourse.