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Under authority of an act approved March 27, 1895, there was established for the state of California a Bureau of Highways. This Bureau was organized April 11, 1895, with the following as Commissioners: R. C. Irwine, Marsden Manson and J. L. Maude.
The objects of the Bureau were: A study of the road problem in California and other states, and the preparation of a report with such recommendations as the organization should deem proper. A visit, during the two years of the Bureau, should be made by some one of the Commissioners to each county of the state, and public meetings held,
The Bureau was required to compile statistics and information in regard to the highways of the state, and given authority to secure such information from local authorities.
One of the duties of the Bureau was the installment of a rock crushing plant at the Folsom state prison. An interesting fact connected with the proposition to establish such plant was that the Southern Pacific Railroad Company agreed to haul the metal at rates ranging from threequarters to one cent per ton per mile.
As an outgrowth of the Bureau, the legislature passed an act, approved April 1, 1897, creating a Department of Highways, consisting of three Commissioners, to be appointed by the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the senate, who should have a practical knowledge of highway legislation, construction and maintenance. The appointment and organization should be for the term of two years, at the end of which time the work should devolve on one Highway Commissioner appointed. as in the original Commission, who, in addition to the qualifications above, should be a Civil Engineer.
The department was to have possession, in the name of the state, of all State Highways; have charge of all expenditures made by the state for highways, except as otherwise provided by law. The department was to carry on the same work and investigations as had devolved on the Bureau of Highways.
The legislature of 1903 passed an act, modeled after the laws of New York and other eastern states, providing for state aid, which was vetoed by the Governor.
As yet California has not state aid law, but hạs taken over from the counties two roads known respectively as the Lake Tahoe Wagon Road, and the Sonora and Mona Road. They are mountainous highways under full state control and maintained as state institutions.
The state appropriated fifty thousand dollars up to 1903 for the construction of the Mono Lake Basin Road, which is also a state institution. These three roads, which are entirely under state supervision, do not come under the head of state aid in the sense as applied by the eastern states. At the last session of the legislature there was appropriated twenty-five thousand dollars, conditioned on the appropriation of twelve thousand five hundred dollars by Fresno County, for the construction of a scenic road into King's River Canyon. Seven thousand dollars was appropriated for the reconstruction of the county road between Cedarville and Alturas in Modoc County, conditioned upon an appropriation by that county of three thousand dollars for the same purpose.
The above indicates the trend on the part of the state legislature of California to state aid to the counties for improvement of the public highways.
JAMES H. MacDONALD,
July 3rd, 1895, the General Assembly of Connecticut enacted a law “To provide for the more permanent improvement of the public roads." Under authority of this law the Governor of the state appointed, with the advice and consent of the senate, three Highway Commissioners: James H. MacDonald for a term of six years, A. C. Sternberg for four years and 'W. R. McDonald for two years.
The law provided that at least one of the Commissioners should be a capable and experienced Civil Engineer. The annual appropriation for state aid was seventy-five thousand dollars, and the proportion in which the cost of construction was to be paid was one-third by the state, one-third by the county and one-third by the town.
To avail itself of state aid any town in the state was required to make necessary surveys and prepare specifications, satisfactory to the Highway Commissioners. Upon approval of surveys and specifications by the latter, the selectmen of the town should advertise for construction and award the contract, being restricted, however, in the amount to one-half of one per centum, as assessed the preceding year, and not to exceed three thousand dollars was to be expended in any one town in any one year. The Highway Commissioners had supervision of the work during construction and the share due from the state should be paid to the town.
The maintenance of the roads constructed under the act should devolve upon the town. Under the appropriations of 1895-1896 there were constructed thirty-five miles of road at an average cost of six thousand one hundred and seventy dollars, and under that of 1896-1897 forty-two miles at a cost per mile of five thousand three hundred and forty-eight dollars and fifty cents. From July roth to Sept. Ist the expenses of the Commission were one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four dollars and forty-seven cents, and to Sept. Ist, 1896, twelve thousand nine hundred and two dollars and forty-three cents.
June 9th, 1897, an amended act was passed, providing in place of three Commissioners that there should be one Highway Commissioner, whose term of office should be one year and that “he should be a capable and experienced road builder,” and substituting for an eight dollar per day allowance, an annual salary of two thousand five hundred dollars, with five hundred dollars for traveling expenses and fifteen hundred dollars per year for office expenses.
Selectmen of towns were alloweil to bid on work of construction, such bids to be filed at least one day prior to opening of bids.
The proportion to be paid by the state for aid was changed from onethird to one-half, the proportion paid by the town to the same and the county relieved from any payment. The term, public roads, in the act was construed to mean only main highways leading from one town to another. The annual appropriation for state aid was increased from
seventy-five thousand dollars to one hundred thousand dollars per annum. Under 1897 appropriation forty-three miles of roads were constructed and under 1898 forty-eight miles.
An amended act was passed June 14th, 1899, providing for an increase of the salary of the Commissioner to three thousand dollars, of his traveling expenses to seven hundred and fifty and office expenses to three thousand dollars. The amended act places the preparation of specifications in the hands of the State Commissioner and makes it discretionary with him to allow the town to do the work of construction where tie estimated cost was five hundred dollars or less. The Highway Commissioner was given joint authority as to approval of bids and contract, with the selectmen of the town. The amount of aid rendered hv the state was increased to two-thirds of the cost when the grand list exceedded one million dollars, and to three-fourths when the grand list was one million dollars or less, and the annual appropriation was increased to one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. The amended act places in the hands of the Highway Commissioner the authority, in the case of neglect on the part of the town, to make needed repairs after one month's notice, at the expense of the town, and gives him authority to appoint inspectors of construction to be paid from the annual appropriation for state aid to an amount not to exceed six thousand dollars per year. The maximum amount to be expended in any one year in any town was increased from three thousand dollars to four thousand five hundred dollars. Under the appropriations for 1899 and 1900 one hundred and thirty-nine miles of road were constructed.
The legislature of 1901 further aniended the act by increasing the allowance to the State Highway Commissioner for traveling expenses to twelve hundred dollars and his office expenses to four thousand four hundred and fifty dollars per year. It increased the limit of cost of construction of roads to be built by selectmen without competition to one thousand dollars.
The most important change made was that authorizing the State Highway Commissioner, in the event of selectmen refusing to carry out the vote of the town for the improvement of any road, and after four months' notification to the selectmen, to perform the duties of selectmen as provided for under the act. The annual appropriation for state aid was increased to two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. Under the 1901 and 1902 appropriation one hundred and fifty-six miles of road were constructed.
The legislature of 1903 gave authority to the State Commissioner to provide for planting of shade trees, when deemed advisable by the Commissioner and selectmen, and to purchase stone crushers for use in towns remote from railroad facilities, and added an item to special appropriations of ten thousand dollars for inspection of public roads.
Under the appropriations for state aid for 1903 and 1904 one hundred and twenty-one miles of road were constructed and the total number of miles since the initiation of the movement in the state is five hundred and seventy-nine, up to January 1, 1905.
The later development in the work and the demands from the towns for state aid is indicated by the fact that they have asked for several years for more money than was available by the terms of the state appropriation. The last adjustment or scaling down of requests for aid by the Commissioner, was at the rate of thirty-seven per cent., in order to keep within the limits of the state appropriation.
Seventy-three towns received two-thirds aid from the state in the appropriations of 1903-1904 and fifty-nine towns aid to the amount of three-fourths of the cost of roads built therein.
The General Assembly at its session in 1905 increased the appropriation for traveling expenses of the Highway Commissioner to fifteen hundred dollars per annum and for office expenses to six thousand dollars. The authority for making surveys was taken from selectmen and placed in the hands of the State Highway Commissioner.
Highway Commissioner MacDonald says in Good Roads Magazine : "It has not been a Sunday-school picnic to get our people interested to the extent that they are to-day. Old customs are not easily laid aside. None of us like to acknowledge we are wrong in our opinion or methods, but the growth of public approval of state aid has been slow and sure and increasing every year since the commencement of state aid in 1895."
“Now, in regard to what has been done in the expenditure of the two million six hundred thousand dollars. This has resulted in the improvement of six hundred miles of road. Since writing my last report we have completed five hundred and eighteen thousand dollars worth of improved highways and let contracts for three hundred and eighty-seven thousand dollars of roads now under construction which will be finished this year, and we are expecting an appropriation this month of over five hundred thousand dollars from the legislature. As an indication that the people of the state are pleased with the system under which state aid is granted and the improvements in the several towns made, it is only necessary to say that every legislature that has convened since the commencement of the movement has cheerfully accorded an increased appropriation; and what is better than any of the facts related, the towns without any state assistance have improved with their town funds, and under improved methods, nearly one thousand miles of their highways. This is a very important fact in connection with our state work and one that is very encouraging to say the least."
HENRY A. VAN ALSTYNE,
EDMUND F. VAN HOUSEN,
Deputy State Engineer and Surveyor. The Governor of New York, on the 24th day of March, 1898, approved a bill known as the Higbie-Armstrong Good Roads law which, except for a few changes, remains in force to day. This law is of especial interest to the State of Ohio, because it is the original after which the one passed by the 76th General Assembly of Ohio was modeled; the law under which it is proposed to render state aid to localities in the improvement of the highways of Ohio. Prior to the enactment of the Ohio law, Pennsylvania had established state aid following quite closely the provisions of the Higbie-Armstrong act. Some of the provisions added to the New York law by Pennsylvania were incorporated in the Ohio law, but the basis of laws of Ohio and Pennsylvania was the Higbie-Armstrong act 1898.
It provided that the Board of Supervisors of any acounty of the state, to secure state aid, might initiate the movement by resolution declaring that the public interests demanded the improvement of any public highway, or section thereof, within the county, and located outside of cities or incorporated villages. The act further provided that the owners of a majority of the lineal feet fronting on any road might initiate the movement.
The resolution of county supervisors was to be submitted to the State Engineer, who, upon investigation, should approve or disapprove of such resolution. The State Engineer was to cause the road to be mapped and a profile to be made, indicating any changes in location. He should prepare plans, specifications and estimates of the work, determining the nature of the improvement that would best serve the purpose of public travel. The improved surface of the roadway was to be not less than eight nor more than sixteen feet wide, unless under special needs, determined by the State Engineer. If the Board approved of the work and the estimated cost, they were to secure requisite right-of-way. The advertising, letting and contracting for the work and construction of same was to be in charge of the State Engineer.
One-half of the cost of the road was to be paid by the state and one-half by the county. The fifty per cent. to be paid by the county was to be distributed, however, as follows: In case the movement for improvement originated with the county, it was to pay thirty-five per cent., and fifteen per cent. was to be assessed on the township. In case the improvement was petitioned for by the property owners, the fifteen per cent. was to be assessed, not upon the township, but upon the lands benufited, in proportion to such benefits, as determined by the town assessors.
The construction of highways was to be carried on in the order of the receipt of the final resolution of approval by the State Engineer.
The maintenance of the improved highway was to be by the supervisors of the county. The relationship of Boards of County Supervisors to improved highways being the same as that of the County Commissioners of Ohio.
When any county had received aid in highway construction, and in the opinion of the State Engineer it was deemed desirable, power was placed in his hands to require the county supervisors to construct any gaps, not exceeding one mile in length, that might be required from the standpoint of public utility, to connect together the state aid roads.
The State Engineer was required to compile statistics and information as to the highways of the state, and given authority to demand such information from local road authorities. He was to investigate methods of road construction and maintenance throughout the state and determine the methods best adapted to the various sections. He was required to furnish information as to the improvement of roads to officers and other persons interested, and in general promote highway improvement in the state. He was required to hold at least one public meeting in each county each year.
January ist, 1902, a number of highways had been improved and turned over to the care of the several counties where located. The neglect of the county authorities to properly care for the same led to an amendment of the act, giving to the State Engineer the supervision and regulation of repair of improved highways, and empowered him, in the event of neglect, to cause necessary repairs to be made, the cost of the same to be eventually charged to the county in which the road was located.