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E. C. HUTCHINSON,
R. A. MEEKER,
New Jersey is placed first in the list of states in this presentation of the movement for State Supervision and State Aid, for the reason, that it was the first state to enter upon its books a law on the subject that, although it has been amended to a considerable extent, has continued to be operative to the present.
The State Board of Agriculture of New Jersey, organized in 1872, early took up the question of road improvement and agitated the subject at its public meetings. Mr. Clayton Conrow, of the road committee of the Board, suggested that, in order to distribute the cost of road construction, the state should pay thirty-three per cent.; the county the same amount: the township twenty four per cent.; the remainder of the expense to le contributed by the owners of the land adjoining the highway improved.
Creer the impetus given to the movement for improved roads by the persistent agitation of the subject by the Board of Agriculture, the legislature at its session in 1891, provided for the construction of improved roads, and afforded state aid to the amount of one-third of the cost of construction.
The preamble to the original law is as follows: "WHEREAS, public roads in this state have heretofore been built and maintained solely at the expense of the respective townships through which they are located; and whereas, such roads are for the convenience of the citizens of the counties in which they are located, and of the entire state, as well as of said townships; and whereas, the expense of constructing permanently improved roads may be reasonably imposed, in due proportion, upon the state and upon the counties in which they are located; therefore be it enacted, etc."
The law called for the construction of macadam. telford or other stone roads "that will at all seasons of the year be firm, smooth and convenient for travel.”
The movement for improved roads might be initiated by the board of county supervisors, or by the owners of at least two-thirds of the real estate fronting on the road or part of road not less than one mile in length. The approval of the road by the board of county supervisors was optional, except that if the property holders were willing to have ten per cent. of the cost of the improvement assessed on such real estate, in proportion to the benefits derived, then the board of county supervisors were required to make the improvement, restricting, however, the amount expended in one year to one-half of one per centum of the ratables of such county for the preceding year. The ten per centum for which the fronting real estate was responsible was to be deducted from the two-thirds of the total cost and leave the share to be paid by the county, fifty-six and two-thirds per
cent. instead of sixty-six and two-thirds, when the movement was initiated by the county board of supervisors.
The county board of supervisors were directed to cause necessary surveys and specifications to be made, together with estimates, all of which were to be submitted to the Commissioner of Agriculture. Upon approval by said Commissioner, the county board of supervisors were to advertise for bids and let the work. The contract was to be filed with the Commissioner of Agriculture.
Upon completion and approval of the contract, the Governor was to appoint a supervisor to oversee the work and require that the provisions of the contract were fulfilled. The amount to be paid out by the state for aid in any one year was restricted to twenty thousand dollars.
The law was inoperative until 1892 and in that year was amended so that the approval of the contract was placed in the hands of the President of the State Board of Agriculture, instead of the Commissioner of Agriculture, the latter office being really non-existant. The annual appropriation was increased from twenty to seventy-five thousand dollars.
As has been almost universally the case in every movement for road improvement, in its initial stage opposition sprang up, and the cry was raised that these costly roads would bankrupt the counties. The opposition came principally from the farmers of New Jersey, the opposition being directed especially against the officers of the State Board of Agriculture, who had been most zealous in furthering the movement, and the prophecy was made that the continuance of the agitatio by and connection of the road work with the Board, would prove disastrous to that body.
By an act approved Jay 17, 1894, the work was completely divorced from the Board of Agriculture, the office of Commissioner of Public Roads established, and Edward Burroughs, up to this time President of the Board of Agriculture was appointed Commissioner of Public Roads. Henry I. Budd succeeded Mr. Burrouglis as Commissioner May, 1895, and served continuously as such up to the date of his death, which occurred January 14th, 1905. Senator E. C. Hutchinson was appointed to the vacant commissionership and took charge of the office January 24th.
In 1895 was passed an amended law adding to the former statement of materials that may be used, that is, macadam, telford or other stone road, “gravel, oyster shells or other good materials” and providing that the State Commissioner, before approving the specifications for any road, shall “ascertain by personal examination or otherwise, the natural character of the soil, etc.” The annual state approprition was increased to one hundred thousand dollars, to be distributed among the counties of the state in such manner as shall seem fair and equitable to the State Commissioner, and in the event that the statements filed in any one year should call for more aid than the annual amount above specified, then the Governor and State Commissioner shall apportion said sum "amongst the counties of the state" in proportion to the cost of roads constructed therein for such year.
The State Commissioner of Roads was directed to appoint supervisors of construction, and where the road had been petitioned for and was being constructed under the ten per cent. provision, the appointment should be made from persons nominated by the petitioners. The State Commissioner having, however, the right to remove such appointees.
The County Board of Freeholders were required to keep in repair all roads improved under the provisions of the act, and by mandamus could
be compelled to comply, except that in cities the road should be kept in repair by the city authorities.
Commissions were provided for distributing the cost chargeable to the real estate fronting on a road petitioned for by the owners thereof, that is, ten per cent. of the total cost.
In 1896 a supplementing act was passed, annulling the power to mandamus, and leaving the county board of supervisors with full and final authority to approve or disapprove petitions for road improvement.
In 1899 the New Jersey Legislature enacted a law. supplementary to that of 1895, providing that a ry Township Committee, Borough Council, Board of Trustees or Commissioners, or the governing body of any township, town, borough, village or of any municipality governed by a Board of Commissioners, to whom should be presented a petition by two-thirds of the owners of the lineal feet of la::ds fronting on any public road or part of same, such governing body could proceel, if they approved the same, in the manner provided by the act of 1895, as applying to county boards of supervisors. The State Commissioner exercised the same authority in such cases as was vested in him by the law of 1895 in reference to road petition coming up throu yh the county board of supervisors.
The distribution of the cost, lowever, was twenty-three and onethird per cent. to the state, sixty-six and two-thirds per cent. to the township or municipality, and ten per cent to the local real estate frontage, instead of t! irty-three and one-third per cent, as when the petition came up from the county board of supervisors.
In 1902 the annual appropriation for state aid was increased to the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
In 1903 tl:e act of 1895 was further amended so as to give county boards the authority to select from the roads petitioned for, the ones first to be constructed, having regard to the important or main trunk roads, and benefit aceruing to the different parts of the county, and to require townships or other municipalities to pay ten per cent. of the total cost, removing that amount from the adjoining real estate to the townships or municipalities.
The annual appropriation remained at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, although the limit to appropriation per annum was increased to four hundred thousand dollars. The limitation in the amount of contracts to be let and dependent upon rate of tax in the counties, was increased from one-quarter to one-half of one per cent. of the ratables of the county for the preceding year.
The restriction, on the appointment by the State Commissioner of surpervisors of roads under construction, to persons named by petitioners, owners of fronting real estate, was removed, and the State Commissioner was given full power upon his own motion as to appointment of the supervisors who were to be overseers of the construction of roads receiving state aid.
In 1905 the State Legislature enacted a revision of the state aid law. requiring that roads to be improved must be at least thirty-three feet wide. Under the revised act the surveys of proposed improvements are delayed until consent has been obtained of the State Commissioner of Public Roads. This is to prevent the useless expense of making surveys upon roads that are not worthy of improvement. The supervisors, under the old law, were paid for their services by the county supervisors. In order to give the State Commissioner better control, the amendment provides that the supervisors or inspectors shall be paid by the state, and
also the supervisors having charge of the maintenance of state aid roads may be summarily dismissed by the State Commissioner. ·
Since the passage of the state aid law New Jersey has built roads each year to the amount given in the table below.
1892. 10.55 miles costing
The cost of roads has ranged from one thousand, five hundred and fifty-four dollars per mile (for a gravel road) to twenty-five thousand, five hundred dollars per mile, averaging five thousand, five hundred and five dollars per mile. The cheapest macadam road cost four thousand, two hundred and eighty-two dollars per mile.
The above account shows that the changes in the laws of New Jersey since 1891 indicate a more and more favorable treatment of the work by the Legislature, a very marked increase in appropriations and in larger powers to the State Commissioner.
An act of the Legislature of Massachusetts, approved June 2nd, 1892, provided for the establishment of a Commission to improve the highways of the commonwealth. Under the provisions of the act, the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Council, appointed three persons as a Highway Commission, to serve until February, 1893. One of these Commissioners must be a Civil Engineer. This Commission was to investigate methods of road construction and maintenance, with cost of same, together with geological formations in relation to road materials, and was to prepare maps and plans showing various routes that they should recommend for improvement. They were authorized to employ experts and other assistants. Compensation and payment of expenses was to be with approval by the Governor and Council. Authority was given to the Commission to call for information from road authorities in the state, as to public ways, roads and bridges.
The Commission was directed to make full report of the result of their work and investigation, together with a draft of 2 bill intended to accomplish the recommendations of the Commission
The said report, together with bill, was to be made to the legislature on or before the first Wednesday of February, 1893.
The Commission, consisting of Messrs. Geo. A. Perkins, W. E. McClintock and N. S. Shaler, at the required time made a detailed report of two hundred and thirty-eight pages, covering the topography, road materials and conditions in the state, and on the methods of construction and maintenance of highways. The report included numerous appendices and tables in reference to road construction and road conditions.
The legislature of 1893 passed a law establishing a Highway Commission as a permanent organization and making certain provisions in regard to its work and duties, but made no appropriation, except eight thousand dollars for office expenses. The work for the vear was consequently confined along educational lines. The Commission was required to hold at least one public meeting in each county each year for the discussion of questions relating to public roads.
The act was amended in 1894 and three hundred thousand dollars appropriated for carrying out its provisions. It provided for a Commission of three, one of whose terms should expire each year, and after two years the terms of all should be three years. Each was to receive an annual salary of two thousand dollars, together with their traveling expenses. An incidental allowance to the Commission was made, for clerk hire, etc., of two thousand dollars.
The Commission was to compile statistics relating to the public roads in cities, towns and counties, and make investigations relating to roads. They were to impart information and could be consulted without charge by road authorities.
Upon petition from county, city or town in favor of the improvement of any highway, and the filing of plans and profiles of the same, the Commission was authorized to take charge of the same as a state road, to be improved and kept in repair by the Commission at the expense of the state, except that local authorities are required to keep the roads open in winter, and cities and towns are responsible for sidewalks. The Highway Commission has jurisdiction as to digging up of or placing of any structure on state roads. Cities and towns have the right to contract with the Commission for the construction of the parts of the state roads within their limits without the same being advertised.
The apportionment of the construction of the roads to the different counties is at the option of the Highway Commission, save that the roads. constructed in any county in any one year, were limited to ten miles, except through the approval of the Governor and Council.
The construction of state roads shall be under the Highway Commission and the entire expense shall be paid, in the first instance, by the state; one-fourth of the same, however, shall be repaid by the county to the commonwealth for the roads constructed within the county. The latter payment shall be within six years, at such times as shall be to the approval of the State Auditor, who shall take into consideration the financial condition of the county. The cost of repair up to fifty dollars to the mile is at the expense of the towns, otherwise at the expense of the state. Section 15 of the act provides that the word "road" as used in the act shall include every thoroughfare that the public has right to use.
The experimental work in the study of the road materials of the state is carried on by the Commission at The Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University.