« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ROAD PRICES FORCED DOWN.
During the war, the cost of roads had mounted higher and higher and in the period following the war, when inflated prices prevailed in practically all lines of commercial endeavor, the price of roads averaged $38,000 to $45,000 per mile. At the time I took office there had been no material reduction in the price of roads, and the first bids opened in 1921 showed that the reduction in price was not in keeping with the reductions in the price of farm products. It was evident that it was economically unsound for the people of this State to be forced to exchange more than 100,000 bushels of corn for a mile of road. I, therefore, directed the officers of the Department of Public Works and Buildings not to award any contracts at a price exceeding $30,000 per mile for a standard 18-foot durable hard surfaced pavement, including average grading, culverts, bridges, and all materials.
Although my stand on the price of roads aroused a great deal of criticism from certain selfish interests, who desired to reap exorbitant profits on road construction, and from others who were uninformed as to prevailing conditions, the Department of Public Works and Buildings has been able to award at figures under $30,000 a mile all pavement contracts let since that date, including some identical sections which had previously been advertised and on which the first bids averaged over $38,000 per mile.
CONTRACTS AWARDED AND WORK COMPLETED 1921-1922.
During the year 1921, there were awarded contracts for 638 miles of standard pavement at an average figure of $28,550 per mile, and in 1922, 475 miles at an average of $26,360 per mile.
These figures indicate that under this policy of demanding a dollar's worth of road for every collar expended, the price has been steadily reduced.
During the year 1921, there were completed, including State Aid 15-d work, 414 miles of pavement, 100 miles of heavy grading, and 92 large bridges.
During the year 1922, there were completed, including State Aid 15-a work, 722 miles of pavement, 163 miles of heavy grading, and 127 large bridges.
The building of 722 miles of pavement in 1922 is the record of this country for the mileage completed by any one state in any one year.
CONSTRUCTION DIFFICULTIES OVERCONE.
Plans were made and contracts were let with the intention of completing 1,000 miles of pavement in the year 1922 and this mileage would undoubtedly have been completed if conditions had been at all favorable.
Conditions over which I had no control greatly interfered with my official duties, and these together with the prolonged rains for the first few months in the spring delayed roail construction in every part of the State. Then, when the construction season was getting fairly started, the coal strike and the rail strike occurred. The coal strike soon became felt on account of the shortage of fuel at the plants manufacturing cement. The rail strike greatly crippled transportation and difficulty was encountered in moving paving materials.
The Interstate Commerce Commission issued orders placing all slat cars in the coal trade, and the Federal Fuel Administration restricted the cement mills from using coal for cement manufacture. After a great deal of intensive effort on the part of the Department of Public Works and Buildings, these orders were amended which partially relieved the situation and enabled a limited amount of work to get under way.
The State construction had steadily advanced until 41 miles of 18-foot pavement were constructed in one week. When it became impossible to get cement and other material, this construction was reduced to less than onethird of that mileage; and even this limited construction would have been impossible if there had not been material in storage in some places.
In spite of these adverse conditions, the Department of Public Works and Buildings, and the road contractors went courageously on with this important work, and were able to establish the world's record in the miles constructed this year.
EARLY LETTING OF CONTRACTS NECESSARY.
Experience has shown and common sense will indicate that the only feasible way to bring about the completion of a large mileage of road during a construction season is to award all contracts in the fall, or at the earliest possible date of the new year. This enables the contractors to ship their materials during the early spring months, to get their plants set up, and to get ready for the actual construction work when fair weather arrives. The Department of Public Works and Buildings has awarded contracts and advertised for bids during the recent fall months for such a mileage that the State is in a position to enter the season of 1923 with nearly 800 miles of pavement; 138 miles of heavy grading and 123 large bridges under contract to be built this year.
EMERGENCY APPROPRIATIONS NEEDED.
The contracts which have been awarded utilize the greater portion of the appropriations which have ben made by the General Assembly, and before any additional contracts can be awarded, it will be necessary for the General Assembly to appropriate additional amounts from the road and State bond road funds. These appropriations should be made available early in the session, so that it will be possible for the Department of Public Works and Buildings to award contracts for several hundred miles more before spring work commences, which, together with the contracts already in force, will insure the completion of at least 1,000 to 1,200 miles of standard 18-foot durable hard surfaced pavements during the year 1923.
PROGRESS ON STATE BOND ISSUE ROADS.
Considering the progress on the State bond issue system, it is found that there have been completed approximately 1.650 miles of pavement. This construction has been paid for by approximately $11,260,564.00 from Federal Aid funds; $21,127,666.00 from auto license fees; $13,733,558.00 from the sale of State road bonds, and $8,456,737.00 from county funds; making a total of about $54,578,525.00.
As stated before, contracts now in force, together with bids under consideration, will nearly exhaust the present appropriations, namely, $30,000,000 from the State bond issue fund and the estimated collection of motor fees up to July 1, 1923.
ROAD BOND SALES.
Up to the present time we have sold $17,000,000 in State road bonds. These were sold in three separate issues:
The first issue of $5,000,000 bringing a price of $94.20;
It will be noted that the bond market has been steadily improving with the result that 4 per cent bonds at the last sale yielded almost par. The interest yield on the last bond sale was 4.04 per cent. These bonds have been sold only as their proceeds were needed for actual construction work, thus saving to the people unnecessary interest payments.
PRESENT FUNDS EXHAUSTED BY JANUARY, 1925.
It is the present plan to award contracts and build 1,000 miles of road during the year 1923, and another 1,000 miles during the year 1924. It is evident that at the prevailing prices, this will exhaust the entire State bond issue and that by the end of the year 1924, there will have been completed from 3,600 to 3,800 miles of the 4,800-mile system. If the State is to build the remaining 1,000 to 1,200 miles, this session of the General Assembly must take steps to finance the State's road program after January 1, 1925.
PROPOSED NEW STATE ROAD BOND ISSUE.
I believe the people of Illinois want the 4,800 miles provided in the bond issue completed, and that there are many other roads in this State nearly as important as the roads which this system includes. I recommend for your very careful consideration the passage of a law providing for another bond issue to be paid, principal and interest, out of the automobile license fees sufficient in amount to complete the present system and bring our total mileage of hard surfaced paved roads up to seven or eight thousand miles.
The constitution of Illinois provides that before any bonds can be issued, the question must be submitted to a vote of the people at a general election. The next general election will be held in November, 1924. If any further funds are to be made available by this means, necessary legislation must be passed at this session in order that the people may vote in 1924 to determine whether or not the work shall proceed. If favorable, the money would then be available for work in 1925 without any delay. Failure of this session of the General Assembly to take some such action would mean the cessation of road activities in Illinois for at least two years, or until the succeeding General Assembly could enact such legislation for ratification by the people in 1926.
MOTOR TEE COLLECTIONS.
I herewith submit the following table, showing the number of cars registered and the motor fees collected in this State in past years: Year of collection,
Number of vehicles. Fees collected. 1911
38,269 $ 105,344.28 1912
6,663,910.22 1922 to December 1.
7,849,693.68 an increase of 115,000 vehicles and $1,200,000 over 1921
Total 1911 to 1922....
$31,878,721.27 An examination of this table shows that the number of cars registered and the motor fee collections are mounting higher and higher each year, and these figures have already reached heights undreamed of when the present bond issue of $60,000,000 was voted on by the people.
ESTIMATED FUTURE COLLECTIONS WILL RETIRL PRINCIPAL AND INTEREST ON BONDS
NO DIRECT TAX.
With the completion of a larger and larger mileage of roads, it seems entirely safe to predict that the present scale of fees would produce revenues amounting to approximately $300,000,000 in the years 1923 to 1948, inclusive. This fund would be sufficient to retire the present bond issue of $60,000,000 and the interest thereon amounting to approximately $22,000,000, and at the same time retire the principal and interest on an additional bond issue as great as $100,000,000 and yet leave several million dollars annually for the maintenance of the completed roads.
This is estimating that it will require six years to complete the entire system of 7,000 or 8,000 miles; and that the last bonds, issued five years from now, would mature twenty years later.
Consideration of the above figures would indicate that an undertaking of even this magnitude could be carried out without any increase in fees, but if, after the completion of the roads, the number of licensed motor vehicles should fall somewhat short of expectations, a slight increase in fees might be necessary. In my opinion, any legislation revising the present scale of motor fees at this time should be directed not at the average passenger vehicle, but more equitably toward the heavy truck, inasmuch as a very substantial part of the cost of pavements is due to the necessity of providing pavements capable of supporting truck loads.
SCIENTIFIC ROAD TESTS.
With such large sums of money to be expended for road improvement, it was deemed wise to make scientific investigations into the subject of highway construction, in order to insure the permanency of the investment of the people of this State.
The Department of Public Works and Buildings constructed, at a point a few miles west of Springfield, what has been popularly termed the Bates Experimental Road, consisting of 63 different sections, embodying all the practical combinations and thicknesses of brick, asphalt, portland cement, concrete and macadam.
This road has been under observation for many months. During the past summer, this road was subjected to a traffic test and much valuable road engineering data have been obtained.
Motor trucks were operated over the entire length of this road and a careful record was taken of the action of each section of road under this traffic. The loads of the trucks were increased in successive stages from 2500 pounds to 8000 pounds, per rear wheel or maximum load of 24,000 pounds, including vehicle, the latter being the present legal limit in this State. It was found that the destructive action of trucks increases as their weight increases, and it is unreasonable to hope that a system of roads will be permanent unless the limitation of the loads which use these highways is rigidly enforced.
TURTIIER INCREASE IN TRUCK LOADS DISASTROL'S.
I am convinced that it would be disastrous to increase the permissible weight of trucks beyond the limit now prescribed in our motor vehicle law. The test road shows conclusively that our present specifications for building roads are adequate to sustain the present legal loads with perfect safety, but it shows further that these roads might be easily destroyed should we permit increases in the legal truck loads now in force and effect, and I recommend that no legislation tending to further increase the permissible weight of the trucks be passed.
STATE HIGHWAY POLICE.
Under the law enacted by the last General Assembly, there has been established a State Highway police force, which has been very active in stopping this abuse of the roads by overloaded trucks. Any legislation should be directed rather towards strengthening the authority of these State highway officers, for only by rigid enforcement of this law can our investment in highways be properly conserved. These State Highway Police Officers have had impressed upon them the fact that they are the servants of the public; that it is their function to assist the traveling public in every way and at the same time to enforce the motor vehicle laws. It has been made very clear to them that any abuse of their power by preying upon the public, by blackmailing or accepting bribes would be cause for summary dismissal.
I believe that our force is made up of men of a class and character who would not take advantage of their official position for dishonest purposes. However, throughout the State there have been some claiming to be deputy sheriffs, constables and others falsely parading, under the guise of the law, who have preyed upon and abused the traveling public by ruthless and ridiculous arrests and by acceptance of bribes, with the result that our people are thoroughly aroused over this issue.
I feel that steps should be taken by this General Assembly to pass legislation which will place in the hands of a State Highway Police Force the enforcement of the law relating to traffic on all State Highways.
STITE JIALVTEXANGE OF STATE ROADS IX CITIES ANI) VILLAGES NEEDED,
Under the Bond Issue Law, the State has the right to build State highways through cities and villages of certain definite prescribed population, but it does not have the right to maintain the roads within the city or village limits after completion. As a result, many of these pavements are suffering severely from lack of proper maintenance and the State is powerless to prevent it. I feel that the people of this State are entitled to legislation which will insure the permanency of the roads for which the people pay, and I urgently recommend that legislation be passed empowering the State to maintain all roads which it has the power to construct.
VARKING STATE ROUTES TIIROUGII ('ITIES AND VILLAGES NEEDED.
Under the provisions of the present law, the Department of Public Works and Buildings has prepared and partially erected a State marking system for State roads. The importance of this marking system to the traveling public cannot be overestimated, and one of the most necessary things in connection with such a systen is that the routes be properly marked through cities and villages.
I feel that this question is of sufficient importance to merit legislation empowering the Department of Public Works and Buildings to select routes and erect markers through all cities and villages in the State in such a manner as will best serve the interests of the traveling public.
STATE AID ROADS,
Under the legislation passed by the last General Assembly, it was provided that the counties should take over for maintenance the State Aid roads in the respective counties, and the county boards were authorized to levy a tax for this purpose to be known as the County Highway Tax. In those counties, which have entered whole-heartedly into the spirit of this law, great advances have been made in road maintenance and the people have enjoyed higliway transportation service which previously had been unattainable because of an absence of a county unit for the administration of county loads.
I feel that this legislation was essentially sound and that the maintenance of the State Aid road system of the respective counties, which roads are prinarily county roads, should be centralized in the County Board of Supervisors and its authorized agencies. This will enable the township and road district funds to be expended on the roads which serve the township or road district with the result that a much higher degree of road service may be rendered to the taxpayers of those units of government.
SUMMLIRY OP RO.ID FACTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
Summarizing the statements which I have outlined in the foregoing paragraphs, I offer the following facts and recommendations:
1. That Illinois is building more rapidly than any other state an adequate system of highways which are positively known to be capable of sustaining the present and anticipated traffic.