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The majority report says:
“In conclusion we would add that the plan of masterly inactivity may well be adopted by the legislature of Ohio in regard to general road legislation. The enactments in other states are too recent to enable us to judge what will be the results flowing from them. The times are not propitious for entering upon experiments in this direction. There is no agreement among the advocates of new legislation upon the features that should be incorporated therein.
"Schemes involving the expenditure of vast sums of public money and the increase of local indebtedness, extending over long periods of time, do not commend themselves to the members of this Commission. l'ntil there shall arise a widespread demand for legislation, and the main features of such legislation are clearly marked and defined, it is useless to place enactments upon the statute rolls. We do not feel that such a period has arrived in the history of the state of Ohio.”
In accordance with the report of the Commission the succeeding legislature did not take any action in the premises, and the state remained inactive as to the principle under consideration.
The movement for road improvement in the years 1891 and 1892 that launched the practical application of the principle of state aid in New Jersey in 1891 and in Massachusetts and Vermont in 1892 waned, and was followed by the period of reaction that always follows new movements.
This period of reaction covered the years from 1893 to 1900, during which only four states established state aid and state supervision: these four states were California, Connecticut, Maryland and New York.
The evident popularity of the work of the departments with the people of the several states where state aid and state supervision had been adopted, led to a new spread of the principle, beginning with Maine and California in 1901, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Utah and Rhode Island in 1903. This massed a solid body of states north of the Potomac River and east of Ohio, pledged to state supervision and state aid, and saw the movement in practical operation in each one of them. The impetus of the movement reached the 76th General Assembly of Ohio, which passed the following resolution :
"Be it Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That this body, through its respective committees on Public Roads and Highways, extends an invitation to citizens throughout the various counties of the state, to attend a State Convention for the discussion and consid eration of such action upon the subject of road improvement as may be deemed desirable on the part of the General Assembly.
“That the Senate Committee on Roads and Highways, and the House Committee on Turnpikes and Public Ways be, and are hereby authorized to issue a call for such convention, to determine upon the manner of securing delegate attendance, arranging necessary program therefor and also to determine upon the time and place of meeting.
“That an invitation be extended through the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Roads and Highways to the State Commission of Public Highways of Pennsylvania, the Hon. Martin Dodge, the Hon. A. C. Lattimer, and the Hon. Walter Brownlow, to be present and participate in the deliberations of the convention.
"propted January 28, 1904."
In pursuarce to the foregoing resolution, the First Biennial Meeting of the Cord Roails Convention of the State of Ohio met in the hall of the House of Representatives, February 15th, 1904. The attendance was larre and addresses were made by a number of good roads advocates and builders.
The Convention passed the following resolution:
“REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON RESOLUTIONS.
“Rosolied, That it is the sense of this Convention that the argument in favor of appropriating a portion of the surplus revenue in the National Treasury, raised by indirect taxes on all the people, for the purpose of improving highways in rural districts, is sound and unanswerable.
“Resolzed further. That we urge upon our senators and representatives in Congress the duty of supporting any proper legislation looking to this end.
“Resolved further. That we favor the principle of state and county aid in building good roads.
"Resolved, That it would be unwise to repeal the law requiring two days' labor on the public highways.
"Resol'ed. That we regard that provision of law allowing road taxes on property to be discharged in labor as unwise; and thus we recommend to the General Issembly such amendments to the statutes as will require all road tax, except the poll tax, to be paid into the treasury in money.
"Resolved. That in our opinion, road supervisors should be appointed by the township trustees.
“Resolved. That we favor the appointment of a State Highway Commissioner.
"Resolared further, That the Executive Committee, which called this Convention, be instructed to form a permanent Good Roads Association, to meet once in two years in Columbus, in the month of Januarı or February, nominate a President, Secretary and one Vice-President from each county; also an Executive Committee.”
This convention was probably the most efficient cause that led to the eactment of the two laws passd by the 76th General Assembly in reference to state supervision and state aid.
One of the acts was named "An act to establish a state highway department by the appointment of a state highway commissioner and assistants, and defining the powers and duties of the office, and to provide for a system of state, county and township co-operation in the permanent improvement of public highways.”
The qualifications for the incumbent of the office of Highway Commissioner were specified to be, that he should be a civil engineer, and experienced in the construction and maintenance of improved roads. The appointment is by the Governor of the state, with the advice and consent of the senate, and for the term of four years.
Provision was made for appointment, as the work of the department required, of an Assistant Commissioner, a Chief Clerk and a Stenographer: the qualifications of the Assistant Commissioner to be the same as those of the Commissioner.
The law provided for the investigation of systems of road building throughout the l'nited States and of the roads and road materials of the state, and authorized the department to prepare, publish and distribute bulletins and reports on the subject of road improvement.
The greater part of the act was devoted to the more particular details of the proposed state aid, providing, upon petition of county commissiorers, or of land owners through the county commissioners, for the construction of improved rcads in the several counties of the state by the Highway Department.
The distribution of the cost to be twenty-five per cent, to the state, fifty per cent to the county, ten per cent. to the township and fifteen per cert to the property fronting on the road to be improved. The law gave full authority to the Department as to advertising, letting and supervision of the work, but limited the cost to the amount of estimates that had been approved by the county commissioners and to be done on plans and specifications so approved by them.
The act directed that all appropriations made by the state for aid should be equally divided among the counties of the state, and that any Duty, having at the time of the act existing permanent highways of the standard specified, might apply for and receive their share of appropriptions for state aid, to be used in tlie maintenance of such existing ras.
At the same time the General Assembly passed another act “Providin for the operation of the state highway department and providing for investigating the chemical and physical character of road making material, and for defining the word highway, etc."
The latter act provided for office and office furnishings and opera
The apparatus and supplies of the College of Agriculture and of the College of Engineering were directed to be used in the investigating of materials for road construction.
County commissioners, to avail themselves of any appropriations for state aid, were required to make application not later than December 31st of the year preceding the one when such appropriation was available, and they were required to maintain state aid roads that might in future be constructed in their counties.
Whenever any funds are available from the federal government for road improvement in the state, its manner of distribution was provided for and placed in charge of the Highway Department.
The Highway Department was given authority to secure from local road authorities data in regard to mileage, cost, maintenance, condition
and character of the roads under their several jurisdiction.
The reason for the division of the law into two acts was to recognize both political parties and show that both were in favor of the movement, as indicated by the action of the legislature as well as the declaration of both party platforms.
No appropriation was made to carry out the provisions of the act for the year 1904, but the following appropriations were made for 1905, available February 16th, when the Department was organized: Salary of Commissioner
$2,500 Traveling expenses of Commissioner
500 Salary of Assistant Commissioner
1,500 Traveling expenses of Assistant Commissioner
500 Salary of Chief Clerk
1,000 Salary of Stenographer
800) Contingent expenses
600 State aid
The limited amount appropriated for state aid, which by law was to be equally divided among the counties, was evidently intended to provide only for surveys of any roads that might be petitioned for before the meeting of the legislature of 1906. In view of the fact that no road construction was to be undertaken during 1905, it was deemed inadvisable by the Governor and Highway Commissioner to appoint an Assistant Commissioner
Governor Herrick on June 30th, 1904, appointed Sam Huston State Highway Commissioner for the term of four years.
During the year the Commissioner and his clerks are engaged in investigating roads and available materials in the state and in issuing and distributing bulletins; in becoming informed as to road conditions and in imparting information and advice in matters relating to improved roads.
Bulletin No. 1, entitled, “Preliminary Instructions and Forms," was issued in March, 1905: Bulletin No. 2. "Construction of Country Roads," in June, 1905: Bulletin No. 3. "Maintenance of Country Roads;" in August, 1905, and Bulletin No. 4, entitled “State Supervision and State Aid" in November, 1905.
Within the year it is expected to issue No. 5, on Cost and Condition of the Roads of the State," and No. 6, "Convict Labor for Road Improvement.”
Petitions for four roads were filed before December 31st, 1904, and surveys are in progress.
No petitions have been received from county commissioners this year, nor is it expected that any will be filed until late in December, for the reason that all petitions for state aid from localities presented to couny commissioners are being held by the same until they know just what roads in their counties will be presented, and they can select in an impartial way those that seem to be of most general benefit to their respective counties. A large number of petitions are in the hands of the boards of county commissioners.
In comparing the proposed work in state aid in Ohio, it is necessary to remember that conditions in Ohio are different from those of any other state. The great variety of soils and materials of the state lead to absolutely an entirely diverse sentiment as to particular methods of procedure and application. Counties vary in assessed value from less than five million dollars to over two hundred and fifty millions. Some counties have
an abundance of good road making material, although not up to the standard of the traps found in some of the eastern states; other counties have no materials worthy to be considered, for the construction of first class roads, although it is probable investigation will reveal constructive value in deposits not now known or whose qualities are not understood. Some counties have constructed a large mileage of fair roads with which they seem to be well satisfied, although their construction has not been after the best methods. Some counties are still, in the face of the great growth of the good roads movement, strangely and bitterly opposed to improving their roads or giving them any attention except the old, crude and ineffective methods of former years.
It is the history of all good roads agitation that there is strenuous objection until practical experience has proved the benefit and economical advantage of road improvement.
A careful examination of the sketches of the movement in the different states in this bulletin will indicate that, although about a score of states have taken up the question of state aid, no two of them are along parallel lines.
The laws of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio are similar, in fact the wording of all three is sometimes identical, yet their variance is well illustrated by the fact that New York aids to the extent of fifty per cent., Pennsylvania seventy-five per cent. and Ohio twenty-five per cent. Ohio proposes the lowest rate of aid, whilst Rhode Island and one or two others pay the entire cost. One or two states have departments only intended for investigation, encouragement and advice. Some three or four state aid laws are along the line of special aid to specific roads and the others provide aid in laws of general application. Maryland, fearing charge of paternalism, does not have letting of contract, only oversight of work by means of engineers and inspectors. Massachusetts, with immense wealth and millionaire summer resident taxpayers, willing to pay for fine roads to summer cottages, has no fear of the charge of paternalism and is autocratic and imperialistic in the powers granted to the Commission. Rhode Island. a compact commercial and summer resident body, aids to the whole cost of construction, placing no charge on locality, whilst Ohio with commercial, agricultural, mining and business interests, in a measure apparently antagonistic, only proposes to aid to twenty-five per cent, and places one-half on county, which is not recognized in New England states. Massachusetts, with its great wealth and corporations taxed heavily, does not fear to expend great sums, whilst Ohio and Michigan consider first and foremost the questions of cost and economy.
No two states with Highway Departments or Commissioners running on parallel lines, the tendency for one state to criticise the methods o: another as to extravagance or parsimonious conduct of its work, is ill advised, for no one method can be applied judiciously to the diverse conditions found in the several localities.
Rhode Island, with its wealth largely aggregated into one city, must follow a different line of treatment than New Jersey with two foci of commercial and financial interests dependent and associated with the interests in each case of the dominating influence of great cities, adjacent to but outside of the borders of the state.
Connecticut, with its restricted territorial limits, must not be expected to follow the rules and procedure of a state of such imperial extent as Vew York.