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Financial Value of Road Improvement

traffic, varies, nature and users

FINANCIAL VALUE OF ROAD IMPROVEMENT. It is not possible to present any valuable general conclusions as to the saving in cost of transportation attainable by any proposed road improvement.

For any particular road where the traffic is principally by " freighters " as defined in 5, it is possible to arrive at a rough approximation by (1) taking a census of the traffic, (2) making an estimate of the present cost per ton-mile. and (3) making an esti mate of the cost after the improvement. The amount of traffic varies with the condition of the road surface, and the chief difficulty is to determine the advantage of being able to move freight at any time. This advantage will depend upon the proportion of the time that the roads are "good," which depends entirely upon the locality and the nature of the road surface, and varies greatly from year to year. Ordinarily the road is used by a variety of teamsters, and the cost varies with the particular circumstances of each. There will rarely be conditions to which this method of investigation can be applied with any degree of certainty. At best the results of such an investigation must be regarded as mere approximations, since no factor of the problem can be determined accurately, and since any slight error in the estimated saving per ton-mile is greatly magnified when multiplied by the number of ton-miles. Never

theless such an investigation is desirable to aid the judgment, but its approximate nature should not be forgotten.

For roads where the traffic is by farmers the difficulties are still greater. The number of users is greater, the cost of transportation to the different users varies very greatly, and the value of being able to use the road at any time is very different with different users, and for the same class of users varies with the locality and the nature of the road.

The amount of money that may justifiably be expended for any proposed road improvement will depend upon the present condition of the road, the amount and the nature of the traffic, and the cost of constructing and maintaining the improved road. The question is a local one, and can be answered approximately correctly only after careful study of the conditions. Ordinarily the saving in transportation, except near large cities, will not justify any radical road improvement; but with a miscellaneous traffic, the social advantages of road improvement should be taken into consideration, even though they can not be computed in dollars and cents.