Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 17 of 61
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and economic conditions generally demanding more efficient transportation
facilities, all thoughtful minds of our State are agreed that a
better and more comprehensive system of highways must be constructed
and maintained. The only question now arising is as to the best plan
for permanent construction and proper maintenance.
Up to the preset time, our whole plan of road-building has been based
to a large extent, on the idea that all roads are "county roads," and that
their construction and maintenance devolves upon the commissioners'
courts of the respective counties. Under this system the funds for construction
and maintenance of highways have been raised by the county,
and the type of road usually constructed has been determined by local
conditions, and built to meet the ordinary requirements of local traffic.
Under this plan of highway building, over $100,000,000 worth of county
highway bonds have been voted by the various counties of Texas and
approximately 2800 miles of good roads have been built with an additional
1800 miles of road now under contract for construction. Over
1200 bridges, many of them of large size, have been built and many dangerous
railroad grade crossings have been eliminated. Under this plan
of highway building, our people have made much progress and the transportation
facilities of our State have been greatly improved. Yet, under
this method which permits counties to determine whether or not good
roads shall be built, we find that not one of our important trunk line
highways is continuously improved throughout its entire length, and
that those portions of the same highway already built, are not uniform
in construction and therefore are not capable of carrying like amounts
of traffic. As a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, so a road
is no better than its deepest mudhole. Although we have already completed
2800 miles of improved highway in Texas, we have scarcely as
much as 100 miles of completed road in a single continuous stretch
and we frequently find sections of the highest grade hard-surfaced road,
capable of carrying the heaviest truck traffic, lying between two sections
of gravel road suited only for the lightest passenger and other ordinary
traffic. Our State Highway Department, lacking State funds to match
the Federal appropriations, has had to depend upon the counties to do so.
The rich counties have voted large bond issues and constructed roads
of highest type; the poorer counties have found it necessary to construct
roads of cheaper type. Some counties voted no bonds at all. Thus our
arterial highways traversing the State lack uniformity and are at best
but a stretch of patchwork. The impassable condition of the mudholes
in some counties must then be taken as the measure of the serviceability
of the great Bankhead Highway which traverses Texas from east to west
and presents in some counties a stretch of the finest type of hardsurfaced
road possible of construction. Thus we see that while this
great highway is as a whole constructed for through traffic, it cannot
render the service for which it was intended because of inferior, and
oftentimes impassable, roads in some of the counties through which it
Another very serious objection to our present method of road building
is that the counties after burdening themselves with large bond
issues to take care of the original cost of construction of their roads,
find themselves unable to provide sufficient funds for their proper
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/17/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .