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Mr. Dobson, President of the Philosophical Institute, delivered the presidential address at the opening of the Institute, Christchurch, on Thursday evening. In the course of a valuable dissertation on ‘‘The Progress of Applied Science in Canterbury,” he made the following remarks on the roads and roadmaking of the province. The general scope of his address was a history of the scientific undertakiggs of the province, with a running comment on each : Turning from railways to ordinary cart roads, it is gratifying to observe how efficiently the country has been opened up during the last few years, the mileage of metalled roads and the number of important bridges constructed under the management of the Road Boards being very considerable. A caution may here not be out of place with regard to the system ordinarily pursued of road-making on the plains. First, the ground is ploughed over, breaking up the natural crust and leaving the surface both rough and loose. Next, this loose stuff is dragged with scoops and harrows from the sides to the centre, leaving on each side an irregular water-table ; and, lastly, round shingle is carted on to the crown of +ho road and spread on a portion of the width thus “formed,” as the process is ironically called. The subsequent history of these roads is well known. Teamsters, and horsemen shun the new metal (which soon becomes covered with a luxuriant growth of thistles), and travel on the unmetalled sides of the new formation. In a short time the light soil is blown by the summer wind, and scoured by the winter’s rains until the water tables become deep and dangerous ruts, and the road sides are worn into hollows and it becomes necessary to reform and re-metal the whole .road in order to make it passable. The final result is no doubt satisfactory, but the intermediate processes are costly to the ratepayers and harassing to travellers. It would be much better in the majority of cases to dispense with the farming process altogether, simply paring down lumps and filling up hollows and pig-rootings with stuff to be obtained from water-tables cut at the fencing line, and to form the slight crown required to throw off the water with the first coat of metal. On this system the natural crust remains unbroken, there is a better foundation for the metal, and as the whole width of the road is open for traffic, the metal when worked upon is less cut up, and lasts far longer without repair. I may here revert to a subject to which I repeatedly called the attention of the Government whilst I held the office of Provincial Engineer, viz., the importance of having all roads through hilly country carefully graded by men who have had, a special training for this work, which is that of the civil engineer, not of the land surveyor. It would be difficult to overestimate the difficulty, expense, and annoyance which has arisen, notably in Bank’s Peninsula, but also in many ether .places, from the road reserves having been laid off without the regard to even the possibility of road construction within their limits, and looking to the probable extension of settlement amongst the net work of vallies lying between the foot-hills and the spurs of the great Alpine chain, it is desirable that a satisfactory system of reading these districts should be initiated at an early date, before access to the land in the rear is blocked by the purchase of the points which are the key to th® possession of the back country.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880

Word Count

ROADMAKING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880