« PreviousContinue »
Mr. MARKHAM. The amounts paid by the States for maintenance of Federal aid roads is as follows:
1 Does not keep record of maintenance of Federal aid roads from other State roads.
(Whereupon the committee adjourned to meet at 10.30 o'clock a. m., the following morning.)
COMMITTEE ON ROADS,
Thursday, March 16, 1922. The committee met at 10.30 a. m., with Hon. Thomas B. Dunn, chairman, presiding.
STATEMENT OF MR. THOMAS H. MacDONALD, CHIEF BUREAU OF
PUBLIC ROADS, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
The CHAIRMAN. Before Mr. MacDonald commences, I refer to a question I asked him on yesterday of how much money remains in the Treasury unexpended up to the 1st of February? I note in a letter that I received this morning, or I make the deduction after reading the letter that something like $195,000,000, in round figures, remains. Is that right?
Mr. MacDONALD. The Treasury balance on February 1 was approximately $196,000,000.
Mr. Doughton. None of that $196,000,000 has been allocated ?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes. On February 1 the balance nct under actual construction was only $125,927,210.
The CHAIRMAN. I asked how much remains in the Treasury?
Mr. MacDONALD. On February 1, $143,284,421 had actually been paid out of the Treasury, leaving a balance of $196,590,579. However, the States had completed work to the value of $34,112,736 in Federal-aid funds for which they had not rendered vouchers. If this were paid the actual balance in the Treasury would be $162,477,843. In addition, the States had work under construction to the value in Federal-aid funds of $36,550,633, and when this work is completed and paid for the Treasury balance will be reduced to $125,927.210.
The CHAIRMAN. In your data this morning will you give us some idea of how the roads are inspected during construction and after completion.
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir; I will. I wish to refer to the matter of available funds later this morning. I have arranged my testimony, with the possible
fault of going into too much detail, to bring before the committee a résumé of the procedure under which we work. As I listened to the testimony and questions yesterday it seemed to me it would be highly desirable for a representative of the Federal executive department having the handling of the funds: which this committee has to pass upon for road improvement to explain very fully the procedure we follow in administering the Federal-aid road work as a. business proposition. As a first re ement under the present law, the States: must each recommend a plan of the so-called 7 per cent highway system. Twenty-three of the States have so far complied. The 7 per cent system in each case must be composed of the primary or interstate and the secondary or intercounty roads of the State. For example, the States of Maryland and Delaware are shown here (indicating on the map]. The heavy lines indicate the system of highways which have been submitted from those two States for improvement through the Federal aid fund.
Mr. DOUGHTON. What do you mean by heavy lines—the black ones?
Mr. MacDONALD. The black lines show the 3 per cent or primary roads, and the red lines show the 4 per cent or secondary roads of the 7 per cent system.
Mr. DOUGHTON. The two combined are the 7 per cent?
Mr. MacDONALD. The two combined are the 7 per cent system. You will note how the lines continue across the State boundaries. All proposed road projects submitted by the State must lie upon the 7 per cent system after it is approved by the Secretary.
Mr. DOUGHTON. That system was begun before the passage of the last law, was it not?
Mr. MacDONALD. Substantially this system was inaugurated as an administrative matter. The department required each State to file a road program map, but the mileage was not limited by a fixed percentage of the total road mileage. The department had no authority to limit the mileage, but had sufficient authority to require a projected program. Now the department has the legal authority to require all States to follow the approved system. Naturally, in the Western States, as evidenced by the map of the State of Washington, the roads on the system are very much farther apart, as the mileage is only sufficient to include the main roads reaching all sections of the State.
Mr. ROBSION. Mr. Director, is that a completed plan of the 7 per cent system of the State of Washington ?
Mr. MACDONALD. This is the tentative plan of that system submitted by the State for the department to consider.
Mr. ROBSION. I was wondering why that great area there had not been touched at all.
Mr, SUMMERS. That area is national forest land.
Mr. MACDONALD. That area is national forest land and we are outlining a supplementary road system in the national forests to fit into the State systems.
Mr. DoWELL. Will it interrupt you for me to ask a question?
Mr. DoWELL. Are you basing the Federal aid now on the 3 and the 4 per cent definitely, or are you making any variation in that? Under the law you are to use not to exceed 3 per cent for primary roads, and my inquiry is, are you making this an arbitrary arrangement with the States to divide it 3 and 4 per cent in your approval of the project?
Mr. MacDONALD. I should not say arbitrarily. Conditions vary between the States; for example, in the State of Maryland such a large proportion of the primary roads are already completed that more of the funds will be placed on the secondary roads of the 7 per cent system until completed. Do I make that point clear?
Mr. DOWELL. Yes. Now, let us go to another State, in which that condition does not obtain. For instance, in the State of Arizona. They wish to spend more on the 4 per cent system than the 40 per cent of the fund.
Under the law your limitation is on the primary road, as I understand it.
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir. Not to exceed 60 per cent, except by the joint action of the Secretary and the States. We have had no cases as yet in which the State wishes to exceed 60 per cent on the primary system; but we have had one or two States that wished to use more than 40 per cent on the secondary system.
Mr. WOODRUFF. There is no limitation in the law regarding the amount expended on the secondary roads?
Mr. MACDONALD. There is no real limitation.
Mr. DOWELL. The purpose of the law in the limitation was to support the secondary road system, and what I was getting at, and I think that you have properly answered it, is as to whether or not you are taking from each State the 3 and 4 per cent project when you give the Federal road fund to that State?
Mr. MacDONALD. We are keeping careful account of the division of funds, but the matter has only arisen in one or two cases. The secondary roads are probably receiving more consideration in the Eastern States, because the primary roads there have already been so largely improved. Have I answered the question ?
Mr. DOWELL. You have answered my question.
Mr. MACDONALD. These maps of the proposed 7 per cent system I have submitted are tentative. For example, this is a map of the State of Massachusetts, You will see that the proposed 7 per cent roads are largely radial from the city of Boston, extending out through the State. After the State maps are submitted, it is the duty of the bureau to obtain the proper connections at State boundaries, and obtain, if possible, connections between roads of the same class in adjoining States by joining primary roads with primary and secondary roads with secondary at the State boundaries. Twenty-three of the States have submitted their maps up to date and we anticipate the others will file very soon.
In addition, there is a system of roads in the forest areas, to be laid out in harmony with the State road systems. If it is necessary to extend the principal roads of the State through the forests, they will appear on the forest highway system with the other roads necessary for the protection and de velopment of the forests. That system is being worked out in cooperation between State highway departments, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Public Roads.
Mr. DOWELL. You do not approve any project in States until they have submitted their plan or maps of primary and secondary roads, do you?
Mr. MacDONALD. There is a provision in the law by which the States, prior to the approval of the system, can certify that by every reasonable prospect the projects will lie on their primary or secondary system. We anticipate, how. ever, that the maps of the proposed systems will all be filed soon. Every project then submitted must lie on the system as submitted by the State if it is to be constructed from funds appropriated by the latest act. Estimates by the States place the mileage of this system at approximately 185,000 miles. We have not checked this figure as yet. Of this we estimate about 60,000 miles have been previously improved to a fair standard for the traffic needs of the locality.
Mr. DoWELL. What do you mean by a fair standard? That is one of the things that I want to get in right here, and I would like to ask just two or three questions to get definitely before the committee the character of the roads that you are approving and just what your term means?
Mr. MacDONALD. By a fair standard we mean a road that will carry the traffic of the community at a reasonable cost for upkeep.
Mr. DOWELL. Is that a primary road or a secondary road?
Mr. DoWELL. How many types of primary roads have you that you are approving or are they in classes such that you can designate?
Mr. MacDONALD. We group all road types into three divisions. The first we call the low-cost type, that includes sand, clay, and gravel construction; the second is the intermediate, which includes water bound and bituminous macadams; and the third, the pavements, which include the concrete, the brick, and the asphalt.
Mr. DOWELL. And those are the three divisions in the primary?
Mr. MacDONALD. Those are the three divisions in which we classify all types of roads.
Mr. DOWELL. Is that the primary or all classes?
Mr. DOWELL. Is there any distinction between the type of construction of primary or secondary roads?
Mr. MACDONALD. There is a legal requirement as to the widths of primary roads. The wearing surface for those roads must not be less than 18 feet, unless the financial or other conditions are such that the Secretary makes a finding that it is impracticable to build a surface as wide as 18 feet.
Mr. DoWELL. What I am getting at is (I do not know whether all of the members understand it or not, I do not) do you put the same character of material in the secondary roads that you put into the primary roads?
Mr. MacDONALD. It depends altogether on the amount and character of the traffic. In New York State, for example, I should answer yes, we do.
Mr. DOWELL. Then what is the difference?
Mr. MacDONALD. Absolutely no difference in the law except as to the minimum width therein specified for the primary system, which is 18 feet. The requirements as to quality of materials and workmanship are the same.
Mr. DOWELL. Then if you build the secondary road 18 feet wide of concrete, it will be identical with the primary road?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir; exactly, if the traffic is the same and therefore the same thickness and proportions of concrete are required.
Mr. DOWELL. Then so far as your department is concerned there is no difference in the material used in the primary and the secondary roads?
Mr. MacDONALD. Except as stated and not for the same type of road surface. But we will, if the State believes necessary, make a distinction in that we will accept for the secondary system, until the primary system is improved to a paved road standard, a lesser cost improvement. There are several conditions upon which the design of a road is dependent, whether it be a primary road or a secondary. The road must carry the traffic. The primary roads being the main lines will ordinarily carry the greatest traffic. The traffic will determine the width and, taken in connection with the supporting power of the underlying soil, will determine the thickness of concrete that must be placed and the richness of mixture for the concrete and whether reinforcement may be necessary. In any case the materials and workmanship must be first class.
Mr. Robsion. The thought is that the primary roads will carry greater traffic-interstate traffic?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir,
Mr. DOWELL. I want to get into the other question just a minute, and that is the question of maintenance. What method have you pursued in securing information relative to maintenance of these roads?
Mr. MacDONALD. Regular inspections of completed roads are made by our field organization.
Mr. DOWELL. What do you mean by that?
Mr. MacDONALD. Our representatives in the field make regular or periodic inspections of each Federal-aid project and report the conditions he finds.
Mr. DOWELL. Do you have a field man in each State?
Mr. MacDONALD. Our organization is divided into 12 districts. Each district is in charge of a district engineer. Under the district engineer are highway engineers, who work in direct contact with the State highway departments. In general, there is one or more engineers established at the State capitals or at the headquarters of the State highway department who works directly with that organization.
Mr. DOWELL. And this man approves the plan when the road is originally planned, before it is sent to your department, and then makes reports to your office?
Mr. MacDONALD. He recommends its approval.
Mr. ROBSION. Just a minute there. He does not approve the plan of the road constructed before it gets to the office?
Mr. MacDONALD. No.
Mr. MacDONALD. The State makes the survey and prepares the plans. While the plans are in progress our representative inspects them and makes suggestions as to their modification, if he deems modification necessary, so that when the plans are completed they may be as nearly correct as the judgment of the men actually at work upon their preparation can determine. When completed, the State highway department transmits the plans to our district engineer, who reviews them and returns them to the State highway department for alteration, if required; or if he believes them correct, he forwards them to our office here in Washington, recommending their approval. At the same time he notifies the State highway department that construction may be proceeded with, subject to any conditions the Washington main office may impose.
Mr. DOWELL. Your field men are the source of the information you have in reaching that project?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir; exactly.
Mr. DoWELL. How often does he report to you on the question of maintenance, and what is your department doing about securing that information?
Mr. MACDONALD. Our instructions require regular or periodic inspections of each completed project and as many intermediate inspections as the circumstances may require, regular inspections from two to three times a year. Written reports are made of each inspection and copies forwarded to our office in Washington, with photographs showing conditions when necessary, and copies of the reports are sent to the State highway departments.
Mr. DoWELL. Assuming, in the State of Illinois, where a number of miles of State road have been constructed ; do you get in your office the condition of those roads through your inspectors?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir.
Mr. DoWELL. And you have in your office the exact situation with reference to their condition?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir; and the date of the last inspection, which might be | Mr. DOWELL (interposing). Well, each few weeks?
Mr. MacDONALD. On all Federal-aid projects under construction, yes; on those under maintenance, two or three times a year, unless circumstances require more frequent inspections.
Mr. DoWELL. And have your agents instructions to personally inspect these roads before they make these reports?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes.
Mr. DOWELL. And each road then is traveled over, I assume, by your agent and is inspected, and he knows when the report should be made?
Mr. MacDONALD. Yes, sir.
Mr. DoWELL. May I ask what deterioration of the road becomes necessary before a repair should be made, taking the three classes of roads? What are their instructions from you relative to when repairs should be made on these roads?
Mr. MacDONALD. The repairs should be made on all classes constantly; that is, we do not believe the roads are being properly maintained until the State has established a system under which each section of road—each mile of roadis under the jurisdiction of an organization responsible for making the repairs from day to day as they are needed.
Mr. DOWELL. Has this been established in all the States since this law has been enacted?
Mr. MacDONALD. It has been established in most of the States and is rapidly being established in all. There are only a few States now that have not established a satisfactory maintenance system.
Mr. Rose. Is it established in the State of New York?
Mr. DOWELL. Is the extent of deterioration or impairment of a road large before it should be repaired? Is that up to the judgment of the man who in. spects it or is it up to a definite system that you have ordered from your de. partment?
Mr. MacDONALD. We require proper maintenance to preserve a smooth surface and to repair defects in the construction as they appear.
Mr. DoWELL. Of course it is more economical to repair a small place in a road than it is to let it run?
Mr. MACDONALD. That is the purpose of the road patrol system.
Mr. CABLE. How many men have you in the field, both in office and out making inspections, in the United States?
Mr. MacDONALD. A very complete statement was furnished the Senate committee on roads and has been published in the hearings before the Senate committee. I would like to refer to those hearings, because each division of the work of the bureau is fully outlined and the number of employees in each .division given. That was printed and is available. The number of technical and scientific employees that we have is 491, and of that number 106 are in Washington and 375 are outside.