« AnteriorContinuar »
they are applied, and what is requisite to be done to improve it.
With respect to the turnpike roads as they now are, it will be found upon an inspection of them that, in regard to their direction, they are universally defective. Scarcely any road between two places is in the best line with respect to distance and hills. The reason of this is that the present lines are the same, except those made of late years, as they were when first established by the aboriginal inhabitants of the country as footways or horse-tracks. Let a map be made of the road from London to Edinburgh, to Carlisle, to Liverpool, or to any distant town, and this fact will be fully sustained.
The first step which should be taken towards the improvement of the principal roads of the kingdom is to make surveys of the mail coach roads: this work should be done by government. The engineers employed should also be required to make plans and estimates for the improvements which may appear necessary; and the trustees of every principal road should be furnished with copies of the surveys, and of the plan and estimates for improvements relating to the road under their care.
The number of single mail coach miles daily travelled in Great Britain, including pair horse coaches, is 17,549.i The expense attending the
i Seventh Report of the Commissioners of Post Office Inquiry, p. 4.
surveying of them should not exceed 31. a mile; so that the whole expense to be incurred on this important preliminary step for the improvement of these roads would not be of a large amount.!
Whenever the improvement to be made on an old road does not require a departure from the present line, the road should first be put into a proper form, as respects breadth and convexity, according to the rules already laid down. A paved foundation should be made from 12 to 30 feet wide, according to the funds of the road, and a coating of broken stones six inches thick should be laid on; a regular footpath should be made; all the old high and crooked fences should be removed, and low ones substituted in their place, parallel to each other, and at a proper distance from the road; and particular care should be taken to provide a sufficient number of drains.
Where the old road is below the level of the adjoining fields, it should be raised by embanking, so as to be at least two feet above them.
If it is not considered advisable to remove the old fences, where the space between them is wider than is necessary for the roadway and footpath, the surplus portion, or waste, should be put into order; for no road can have a finished appearance unless the whole space between the fences is arranged so as to have a regular and uniform shape. This operation will also assist very
* This subject will be again referred to, in Chapter XII,, on Road Legislation.
much in contributing to the dryness and preservation of the road. On this point Mr. Telford makes the following observations in his third annual report on the Holyhead Road : —
"I cannot too often repeat, that a surveyor should not feel satisfied that he has done his duty until the whole breadth of ground belonging to a road between the fences is put into perfect order, as this shows skill, attention, and good workmanship. A certain space, say six feet, should be formed into a footpath of one regular breadth, with a surface made with a coating of strong gravel, or small broken stones, at least six inches deep; thirty feet should be allotted to the roadway, to be formed of one regular convexity, with the use of a properly shaped level *; one side channel should be formed by the sod margin of the footpath abutting on the side of the road, and the other by the sod margin of a flat mound of earth, of the same form as the footpath; and the whole waste between the fences should be filled or levelled, so as to have a perfectly smooth surface. The wastes should also be sown with grass-seeds; and where the soil is clay, the scrapings of the road should be carefully spread over them, till they become firm. When the fence of a road is a hedge, this should be cut and clipped every year by the surveyor, at the expense of the trustees; and the work should be done in such a manner as to leave the side and horizontal lines of the hedge perfectly straight and even.
* See Plate VII. fig. 8.
". In order to assist the surveyors in putting their roads into a good shape, I have drawn up the following specification: —
"Specification for the Regulation of the Surface between the Fences, so as to establish uniformity in the Cross Section.
"1. The road is to be thirty feet wide, exclusive of footpaths, with a fall of six inches from the centre to the side channels.
"2. A sod to be laid on each side of the road, eight inches wide, and six inches in thickness, and in such a manner as to form a sloping edge; the top surface of the sods on each side to be exactly on the same level.
"3. On one side of the road a footpath to be made behind the sod; it is to be six feet wide, and to have an inclined surface of one inch in a yard towards the road; and another sod to be laid along the outer edge of the footpath, eight inches wide, the top of it on a level with the footpath.
"4. On the other side of the road a flat mound of earth is to be formed behind the sod, on a level with the top of it, six feet wide; the surface of this mound is to be sown with grass seeds.
"5. The waste land on each side, where there is any, between the footpath, or the mound, and the road fences, to be dug over and made quite smooth; when these wastes are covered with grass, the sod to be pared off each breadth, and laid on the breadth last dug; when they are not in grass, the new surface is to be sown with grass seeds.
"6. If there is a ditch on the road side of the fence, or if the road fence consists of a high bank, a new post and rail fence is to be made close along the footpath or mound, with a ditch on the field side, at least three feet deep."
If the foregoing rules were strictly attended to, the safety of fast travelling by night coaches would be very much increased. The accidents which occur by night arise chiefly from coachmen getting off the road, and running the wheels of coaches on high footpaths or other high banks of earth immediately on the sides of the road; but if no footpath were higher than six inches above the side channel of the road, and if a flat mound were formed of the same height on the side opposite to the footpath, coachmen, on getting off the road in fogs or snow storms, would be able to pull into it, or stop, without any danger of being overturned.
The parish roads might be much improved by attention to a few general rules. Twenty feet in breadth should be carefully set out and defined by a row of sods on each side.
The surface should be brought to a convexity of six inches from the centre to the sides, by laying on good road materials. The ruts should be filled with hard materials from time to time.
The space on each side between the sods and the fences should be made smooth, with an inclination of one inch in a yard from the road to the fences. Drains should be made along the fences, and all watercourses and drains connected with the