Good Roads Status 1910

This article was published in the January 2, 1910 Indianapolis Star and provides an update to the good roads movement that was underway in the United States at the time. In reading the article it is interesting to note that even by 1910 the notion that the automobile was not an entirely established and widely accepted transportation solution and was just then only taking root.
George C. Diehl, chairman of the Good Roads Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA) sums up the evolving attitudes of the day with this quote: "A great deal has been said about automobiles ruining the roads. Automobiles do distintegrate the water bound road. But the interesting fact is that automobiles have come to stay. It is only a question of time when the automobile will be used in hauling farm products. Then when we have arrived at the question of proper road construction, we can say that the automobile not only solves the problem of rapid travel but also has solved the problem of road maintenance."
I love an excerpt from the article because it speaks to the change that comes from one generation to the next and this case it is the attitude toward cars: "If the automobile aroused discussion and criticism by destroying the roads considered good enough for the last generation it is now widely recognized as the forerunner of better roads."
By 1910 a "tipping point" had clearly been reached and the public sentiment for improving roads had clearly leaned in the direction of automobile enthusiasts. Evidence of this was the support of the National Grange, an association of those in agriculture that still exists today. In 1910 the majority of these people were owners of family farms. The article suggests that Western farmers were most advanced in their thinking, having already embraced the automobile and recognizing how it improved their lives and productivity.
The article references a census that reported that there were 2,155,000 miles of roads in the United States and the annual expenditure on maintenance was $90,000 annually. Also, the article indicates that nearly half the states in the country had government administrative departments to manage roads and highways. This centralized road work under a statewide highway department. Among the states with such government departments were those in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, California and Washington.
Further evidence that the Good Roads Movement had strong momentum was the proliferation of conventions concerning the subject. Some of those most notable were held in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virgina, Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia in the South. On the Pacific Coast the city of Seattle hosted a conference. The American Roadmakers' Association held its sixth annual convention in Columbus while Cleveland was the scene of the second annual National Good Roads convention. The AAA was preparing for a meeting on the subject just three days hence on January 6 in New York.

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