Celebrating 80 Years of Better Roads
Better Roads Staff
In the Better Roads Forum column in the January 1960 issue, Editorial Director and Publisher, Alden F. Perrin, wrote about the move to the suburbs from the cities. “…the movement of people from the heart of the city to suburban areas has created a problem that counties all over the country have been trying to cope with. An important part of this problem is the county road in an area that is rapidly developing from rural to suburban or urban. In all probability the road will certainly become a city street.”
This op-ed piece goes on to say that these problems included counties that “rarely builds storm and sanitary sewers”; getting the “city to accept a county obligation within a city”; “road improvements (which) can’t wait for incorporation”, and “developers (who are) required to pay for road improvements”.
The Continuing Crisis
In the March 1960 issue of Better Roads, it was reported “in order to work within the limits imposed by congress and the highway trust fund, the Bureau of Public Roads has imposed severe restrictions on state highway departments. These restrictions are resented by some state highway officials who think the federal government is interfering too much in what should be regarded essentially as a state program.”
Forecast for the 1970s
And this interesting tidbit from March 1960…”The Highway Departments of 48 states expect that in 1976 there will be 114,000,000 registered vehicles and they will be drive 1,200,000,000,000 miles that year consuming 97,000,000,000 gallons of fuel.’”
With the population of the state of California exploding, Better Roads in November 1960 reported “during the next 20 years 100,194 miles of county roads and city streets in California will need improvement at a total cost of $12,752,000,000….”
President Kennedy weighs in on highways
March 1961…. with talk of suspending the Interstate program in mid-stream, the following was reported by Better Roads:
“In his message to congress February 28, President John F. Kennedy declared that he was ‘wholly opposed to either stretching out or cutting back our highway program,’ and urged congress not to rely on either solution.” Kennedy said that “it would be unwise at a time when our ‘slump-ridden economy needs greater…not lesser construction activity…. and to postpone the completion of the Interstate system only further postpones the day when our highways will be adequate….”
Elvis has left the building….
Here’s an amusing item… from the January 1962 issue of Better Roads…
“Rocks and Roll. Elvis Presley fans have given the Tennessee Department of Highways some extra work. His mansion near Memphis has attracted swarms of worshippers, who park to gape. Highway shoulders in the area developed dangerous potholes. It did no good to put gravel down because girls carried off the pebbles as souvenirs. So the department had to send out a crew to patch the holes and give the shoulders an asphaltic surface.”
A meandering economy stymies road construction
The economy in 1963 moved along slowly, which had an inferior affect on the funding available for road building. Better Roads reported in “the 1963 sessions of state legislatures passed an astonishing variety of laws…only three states passed gasoline taxes …in 1963, and five states approved road-bond issues.”
Sounds like a monorail to me!
The August 1964 issue of Better Roads posted an article titled “Travel by Computer.”
“Mechanical engineering students at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have been working on an automated automobile and road as an approach to the solution of highway problems. …the “Commucar’ could be driven anywhere, but it could be also used under automatic control on special roadways. Arms on each side of the compact, electric vehicle would draw power from a side rail on the throughway. Trips would be programmed for computer control. The students are convinced that their solution to the nation’s transit problems is better than (most) and that the special arteries can be laid over existing roads and mass-transit systems”.
Buckle-up for safety
Better Roads’ January 1965 issue featured an article on seat belt usage in highway departments…
“Most safety experts agree that seat belts in use can mean the difference between life and death….” In a survey of 47 highway departments, “46 are using seat belts on some if not all passenger carrying vehicles…and 24 are using them on some trucks”.
The Passing of an Industry Giant: Alden F. Perrin
On April 23, 1965, founder and publishing director of Better Roads, Alden F. Perrin, died. He was 78 years old.