By ALEX GLENALADALE Six-and-a-half years ago the Ministry of Transport issued a Memorandum on the layout and construction of roads which disappointed many of those semi-experts who had made a study collectively and by themselves of the country's road requirements.
The Memorandum of August, 1930, showed what was then considered culpable shortsightedness and as such is now proved by the new Memorandum published this month. It is felt that nearly all the proposals in the Ministry's latest publication might well have been made six years ago.
Finding the Obvious
It has taken all this time to search for the obvious. However, the obvious remains as sound as ever it was, so there is little use in grumbling over a waste of time except in the humble hope that the Minister of Transport may rightly blush.
In short, the new Memorandum asks that all roads shall be built to ensure consecutive fast travel with no lessening of public safety. As in the case of the last Memorandum it is recognised that many of the recommendations may go through a period of waiting while local authorities haggle with the Ministry over questions of expense and local desirability. In view of the New Roads Act, however, by which the Ministry takes over the burden of some 4,000 miles of main roads next May, there will certainly be less interference of this sort in future.
We have seen here and there that even a man-made road can arrive close to perfection. Good lighting, duet carriageways, cycle tracks, and footpaths, make a cornbination that is at once safe to all and a pleasure to use.
Not the least stressed point in the Memorandum deals with improving the beauty of the countryside. Rather a startling statement to a number of people, maybe, but after all, why not?
The fact of the matter is that our roads are for the most part, obsolete. Their appearance has not noticeably altered in hundreds of years.
The Old Way In the past, roads were rarely built as permanencies, though generations got so used to them that they remained almost in their original state.
In the era that followed the Industrial Revolution (and through which we are still passing) the tendency was to habitate near to roads, instead of constructing roads to link new habitation. In consequence it became nigh on impossible to widen those important highways which, for a great part of their length, ran through densely populated areas.
It is only a few years since the first bypasses were built. Narrow affairs they were, too, which were promptly strangled by ribbon building because little thought had been given to the needs of an increased traffic load on them.
And the New Way
Ribbon building became illegal (though " miles of damage " had already been done when the Act came into force) and it was realised at long last that roads would have to be made, not for the use of just one generation or half-a-dozen generations, but roads that would look the same at the time of their construction as when Gabriel takes one last look at the world before sounding his trumpet.
That is the task which the Ministry of Transport is attempting and although certain details are questioned by outside experts, it is felt that the dawn is breaking on a day when motorist, cyclist and pedestrian will be able wholeheartedly to join in applauding Mr. Here Belisha and his colleagues.