SYSTEMS OF ROAD MANAGEMENT.
Several different systems for managing the work of constructing and repairing country roads have been proposed or are in use in various places. These systems differ in the placing of the control of the roads and in the methods adopted for providing funds.
The control of the roads under the various systems may be vested in the national government, in the vari ous State governments, in county or parish organiza tions or in townships or districts. In regard to the location of control and responsibility, it may be remarked that there are two points to be kept in view.
ist. In order that the work may be economically conducted, the section of country included under one control should be sufficient to warrant the permanent employment of a man, or corps of men, whose business it shall be to continually look after the roads, study their needs, and systematically conduct their improve ment. It should admit of the ownership and use of labor-saving machinery for the economical execution of the work, but should not be large enough to require an elaborate and complicated organization.
2d. The control of road work should be so arranged that, as nearly as possible, all of the interests directly affected by the condition of any road shall have a voice in its management and contribute to its support.
Common roads are essentially local in their character and are not usually employed as lines of 'continuous transportation over any considerable distance. They are not, therefore, of state or national importance as lines of communication, although as factors in the general welfare of the people they must, of course, like all other such factors, be of general interest and concern to both state and nation.
The nation, and in most cases in this country the state, is too large a unit to assume direct control of road work. In general, the interests over so large an area are so varied, and the requirements so different, as to prevent a harmonious and successful organization of such work with a probability of economical adminis tration. In some cases, however, such control might
be wise and proper, and the recognition of the impor tance of road improvement to the general welfare of the state, through the payment by the state of a portion of the cost of permanent improvements, has in some instances proved a powerful stimulus to local action.
The control of road management by towns and small districts is nearly always inefficient because the organi zation is too small to support a proper management or provide the necessary appliances for economic work. Under this system the man in charge of the roads is usually engaged in other work; he is not a road engineer, and can, and is expected to, give but little attention to the road work. This system of control is also usually unfair, except in case of roads intended for the accom modation of the local district only. For instance, a road passing through a town may be a thoroughfare for the towns upon each side. The principal traffic may be this through-trade to points beyond the limits of the town in which the road is situated. The cost of keeping up this road is largely due to outside traffic, and the intermediate town should not be required to bear all the expense of maintenance. On the other hand, the interests of the towns whose trade passes over the road are largely affected by its nature, and the people of these towns should be permitted a voice in determining the character of the road. Most of the more important roads of every vicinity pass thus through several towns, and the system of improvement by small districts works injustice both ways — upon those who are obliged to keep a road for the use of others and upon those who are obliged to use a road they cannot cause to be kept in proper condition.
County management seems more successful in this country than any other, as a county, or two counties combined if necessary, is usually strong enough to secure intelligent management and homogeneous enough to have common interests.