WHAT SHOULD WE BUY WITH THE HIGHWAY USER ' S DOLLAR?
What should we buy with the highway user ' s dollar? u*** road buildi ng
is an important activity, having far-reaching impacts upon people and resource
use."l This is a statement which I personally endorse , and which I am sure
expresses the opinion of the citizens of this State, not only as evidenced by
the creation of a State Road Commission in 1909, but also as evidenced by a cts
of the Territorial Government in highway matters practically from the instant
of c olonization by our pioneers. It is also an opinion, which I am sure ~ is
not unique to this State , nor is it recent in origin, as evidenced by national
legislation in the highway field, the most notable being the creation of the
Bureau of Public Roads and the continued interest of our elected representa~
tives in good highways by the continued enactment of : Federal-aid to highways
I can concur with the statement that the College of Forest, Range and
Wildlife Management has a keen interest and responsibility i~ the philosophy
of land and resource use, but I cannot and will not accept the inference in
your Committee's report that the Utah State Road Commission, and its Highway
. Department, has no interest except in the engineering concepts of highway
design and construction, and has made no effor~ to determine economy and
social needs in the location and design of our State highways. During t he
last five years, we have spent ' ~lmost thre~ million dollars ($2,821 ~ 910 . 00 )
through our Research Department, in-. cooperation with the U. S . Bureau of Public
Roads, and have sought the assistance of several consulting engineering firms
of national reputation, as well as the University of Utah and the Utah St a t e
1Dary1 Chase , President , Utah State University
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University, in studying social and economic needs for the improvement to
existing highways and the location of new highways. This represents only
direct expenditures of the State Highway Department. It does not include the
cost to national organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences ,
National Research Council, Highway Research Board, Automotive Safety Foundation,
American Association of State Highway Officials, and the Bureau of Public Roads ~
for special studies on the national level. These studies, as well as numerous
studies by other states and private engineering groups, findings of which where
applicable~ are being used as guides in our own highway policies.
It must be remembered that the State Road Commission and its operational
arm, the State Highway· Department, were created by acts of the State ~~gislature
and charged with certain responsibilities relating to highway matters. As
such, its primary responsibility is to all of the citizens of this State and
is not limited to the small interests of special groups. This is not to infer
that the Commission has a clos~d mind to the opinions and recommendations of
any economic, social, or geographical representation; but, in the final
analysis, it must be re,~ognized that the Commission action is a matter of
judgement bas,ed .on the studies which have been made, in which such suggestions
must be evalu?ted in terms of maximizing road-user benefits and minimizing
road-user cost. That such judgement is not arbitrary or capricious is borne
out by the amount 'of money spent on research to develop facts upon which
sensible decisions may be made for the orderly development of roads 3 streets~
and highways in the State of Utah. These studies are factual and not based
on the type of generalities as e~emplified in the statement that "')h'dc the
new Federal Highway program alone requires 30 acres per mile of highwayo It
will consume the equivalent of 11,000 Utah farms of 160 acres each." It is
a matter of simple arithmetic, assuming that each mile of the Federal-aid
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Interstate System did take out of production 30 acres of land , that this
would be the equivalent of only 175 of Utah farms of 160 acres each, not
11,000 farms. As a matter of fact, over one-third (328.4 miles) of this
highway is being built on the existing location. Also, as a matter of fact,
many miles of this highway being built' on the 605.2 miles of new loc a t ion are
being constructed on land which is not productive farm land or even grazing
land-~at least I haven't seen much vegetation on the Salt Flats between Wendover
and Knolls. The 1959 farm census indicates a total of 16,543 crop land units
of all sizes in the 29 Utah Counties~ - There are 16 counties with interstate
routes. The crop land units of all classes for these counties account for
10 , 637 units of the State total of 1,.2J~ , ?19 /w~ It, therefore , appears tha t
a deliberate attempt to mislead has been made in the Committee's report. Less
than 10 per cent of the Interstate mileage on new location affects in any
degree productive farm acreage. Assuming the 10 per cent to t .a1 did c onsume 30
acres per mi1e~ the t otal a~reage affected would be only 1 ~ 800 acres. Using
the Committee's figure of 160 acres per unit, this would resul t in only 11.25
units rather than the 11 ~ 000 ~tated. . If I wanted to generalize instead of
waiting for the factual da t a which will be developed from the American Fork
Impact Study being researched by There1 R. ~lack, Department of Sociology, and
Vernon Lo Israe1sen , Department of Economics, of the Utah St a t e University ~
which I am confident will substantiate the generality , I could say that the
resulting economic benefits to the farm units adjacen ~ to the Intersta t e
System, by providing greater utility from the improved transportation fac ilit y,
will far outweigh any social-economic loss occasioned by tJe withdr awal of
such a meager productive acreage. The me t hod by which the bes t of several
possible locations for highway improvements is determined , the Benefit-Cost
Ratio, assures that the minimum in land value compatab1e with highway ser vice
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and construction costs will be selected for final route location.
By inference the Highway Department is blamed in your Committee's report
for the roadside or fringe type of development that has, in some instances
in the past, followed the construction of a highway, especially on new
locations. This is not a new problem to the Road Commission~ and its existence
was recognized a long time ago. It was a problem that was also recognized by
the State Legislature with the enactment of the Limited Access Law~ which
permits the Highway Department to limit or control access. For obvious economic
reasons such action has usually been limited to construction on new location.
The Highway Department never has had authority to zone or restrict land-use
on private land. Actually, adequate legislation is already provided for local
government sqch as the cities and count~es~ to provide such control by zoning
Such a statement as "These frequently become the sites for junkyards~
shoddy developments, and other land~wasting areas" can only be refuted in
general, becc;tuse "frequent ly" it is hardly measurabole 0 Does ! it mean one per
mile, one per 10 miles~ one per 100 ~iles? :' O~~ unfamiliar with Utah's highways
would receive the impression that our more than 6,000 miles of State
highways ~re lined from State bqrder to State border with these conditions.
This is h~rdly ' a fact~ but even , if it were, it is beyond the legal ability
of the State Highway Department to control.
I agree that "BasicallY3 highways serve a strictly utilitarian purpose-~
their function is to get people oand materials fr~m one , place to another~'t'~('~'(',"
and I adm:i t, in fact, I am proud of the progress : that has been made in this
State in providing highways to serve this basic need, but I believe the
responsibility of the Road Commission is first to provide for this basic need
and then to consider aesthetic values in terms of cost. In the past it has
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been proven that Utah has not had sufficient funds to even adequately supply
these basic needs, let alone provide for aesthetic values with construction
dollars. However, I would like to point out that when the funds are available,
as in the case of the Interstate System , that due consideration has been given
to landscaping and rest areas~ and selection of highway loca tion where extra
cost would not be excessive, that would preserve the natural beauty as far as
possible--for example, the 'Interstate location through Silver Creek Canyon
where the design provides for minimizing the cuts and fills by letting the
creek itself be the traffic barrier rather than a four - lane shelf with an
The accusation has been made , and I quote, "Rarely has the impact upon
land-use and human population distributions received adequate attention." Of
courses I don ! t know just what measure this Committee had in mind when they
said "Adequate". Surely , t hey must be aware that the Utah Stat e University
had been employed to make an impact study on the effect of the Interstate
Highway in American Fork and that this study was designed to serve as a model
to measure such impact on the 19 urban areas of similar popula tion size.
Perhaps they can be excused , because the Road Commission does not seek publicity
through sensa t ionalism~ for not knowing the Road Commission has spent about a
half million dollars, in cooperation with the local planning agencies of Salt
Lake City and County, Davis County, and Bountiful ' in which economic and social
factors~ in terms of land-use~ are a major part of this research project , or
that work has already been initiated to carry this same field of research into
North Davis and Weber Count i es and is planned for the Utah County area o The
total area under study inc l udes approximately 75 per cent of the population of
this State. Also, our work program for the period July l ~ through 1962
initiates the beginning phase of a St ate -wide Transportation Study in the
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economic--including land-use--and social factors with relation to the total network
of highways without reference to administrative system, to be coupled with
a fiscal study to be related to over-all highway needs.
Perhaps it is redundant to comment again about the accusation that "the
Highway Department has in effect become the land-use planning agency~ generally
without personnel competent in the many ~sp~cts of land-use." I again wish to
emphasize that land-use planning is not a responsibility of the State Highway
Department, but at the present time is the prerogative of the local governmental
agencies; I also wish to emphasize again that the study of land-use, both
existing and planned, is a part of the State Highway Department's field of
investigation, and that advice and cooperati'on of the local planning agencies
are sought not only informally but py fQ~mal contracts in many instances.
In the field of highway literature reports replete ,with research studies
and information in this field are constantly being used 'as reference material
by the Highway Department, and are also available for the information and
instruction of your Committee o I am including a bibliography of some of the
more recent and more important reports in this field.
Many of the criticisms containeq in the Committee's report are so
vague and of such a general nature that they hardly warrant item by item
attention. Such statements as "these frequently have an adverse effect,1t
"this may spread," "many engineers," (highway engineers?) are examples of
what I have in mind.
Basically, I believe that our problem is one of misunderstanding rather
than disagreement. Without question, all of the items ,mentioned in your
Committee's report merit consideration, but in the final analysis, the cost ~
in terms of highway user ,'s dollars, of providing all of the remedies recommended
by your Committee must be evaluated in terms of the existing and potential
highway needs, and economic and social loss to society resulting from long
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delay in providing needed highway construction compared to the loss which may
result by not complying with recommendations in your special and limited field
of interesto The Highway Department is the custodian for the highway user's
tax dollars to the extent that the Legislature has seen fit to make this
source of revenue available to it, and its primary responsibility is c learly
defined in the State Code. In the final 'analysis, what your Commit t ee advocates
is the diversion of the highway user's tax dollar to non-highway use and the
assurance that such diversion will take place by the creation of a dictatorial
group separate and distinct from the highway engineering field with powers to
arbitrarily dictate and enforce such diversion o At the same t ime we recognize
the needs" and desires of the segments of socie ty which may be benefit ted or
adversely affec t ed by highway improvements and construc tion. However ~ we
firmly believe that the procedures are already established for hearing and
considering the objections ,and recommendations of these groups, but we still
maintain that we have th~ right. in the field of highway matters t o make those
dec isions that~ in our op i nion 9 and as directed by St ate legislatiori ~ be~ t
serve the public good .
I would like to make an addi tional comme_nt or two to reply to each one
of the four recommenda t ions of ypur Committee:
(1 ) We are already making use of the special t alent s of Utah ' s universi-ties,
and we believe ~ c onsidering the amount of money available to the Stat e
Highway Departmen t~ t hat we have an excellent research program; for reasons of
flexibili ty an over -all highway research program should r ema.in under the
jurisdiction of the St a t e Highway Depar t ment o
(2 ) There is alrea~y Federal and S t at~ legislatioh~ requiring coordin=
ation of certain agencies. Perhaps more is needed ~ but in any event , there
must be some authority responsible for making final decisions o I can ' t ~elp
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but wonder how the Board of Regents and the University administrators would
react to a suggestion that all of their decisions would be subject to review
and confirmation including the final decision for funding and expenditure of
the University's educational dollars by self-selected groups with little
knowledge of academic problems and procedures who might have some interes t
in the research and graduates.
(3) We believe that the authority to review and reject highway design
proposals can best be accomplished under the presently established Road
Commission and Highway Department, just as we believe that the ' aims of the
College of Forest, Range and Wildlife Management of the Utah St ate University
can best be served by personnel who have the education, training, and experience
in this specialized field o
(4) Legislative recognition of this recommendation is the prerogative
of the duly elected representatives of the people, but if such legislation
were enacted, would be the responsibility of the. State Highway -Department.
1 0 Arizona Highway Department, "Economic Impact o'f the Proposed Interstate
Program in the Phoenix Area, 1957.
20 Better Roads, "Planning Is Essential for Orderly Development, July 1961, pp . 28 .
3 . California Highways and Public Works, "Planning" Volumn 39, November-December,
1960, Numbers 11 and 12, page 40 .
4 . Colorado Department of Highways, "Economic · Impact Study '1, Planning and
Research Division, October 1958 .
5 0 Harrison, ·Joseph ·W. ) Highway Ee01:lOmi:-sc-, ·J'ffieon-omi-c · E-ff·eets ef-:.· Limi ted Aecess
Highway and By-pass, University of Virginia, 1956 .
6 . Highway Research Board, Special Report No . ·28, "Economic Impact of Highway
Improvement, Publication 541 . 1957 - :S~ssion I - The impact of Highway
Improvement on Land Val,ues . . - Session II - Impac t of .. Highway Improvement
on Land Use .
7 * Highway Research Boa17d, I'Fo.re.castin;g. f<;lr .Hi$hw~ys", Bulletin 257, Publication
7 6,6 .
8 . Highway Research Board, "Highway and Economic · Development", Bulletin 227,
~ublication 687, 1959 ~
9 0 Highway Research Board, "Highway Needs .and Programming Priori tie-s" ,
Bulletin 249, Publication 7.38, t960 .
10 . Highway Research Board, Highway Needs StlJdy, 1957, Bulletin No . 158,
Publication 497 .
11. Highway Research_~oard, "HigJ::lway Needs ' StudieS. - 1958", Bulletin No . 194
Publication 620 ._
12 . Highway Research Board, "H~.ghway Planning II , Bulletin No . 17 , 1948 .
13 0 Highway Research Board, "Highway Planning", Bulletin No . 31, 1950 0
1·4 . Highway Research Board, "Highway Planning and Urban Development", Bulletin
64, Publication 249 0
15 . Levin, David R, "The Highway Interchange and Its Adjacent Land Use",
1960 Proceedings, Institute · of Traffic Engineers, Department No . 6, pp . 232 .
l 6 ~ Lovoca, Phyllis, "New Roads Proving An Economic Boon", Highwa:r Highlights,
November-December 1960, page ; i2 '~
17 0 Highway Research Board, "Roadside Development - 1957", Publication 496 .
18 . Highway Research Board, "Roadside Development", Bibliography No . 26,
Annotated, 1960 .
Highway Research Board, "Some Economic · Effects of Highway Improvementft
Bulletin 67, Publication 256, 1953.
Highway Research Board, "Some Evaluations of Highway Improvement Impacts",
Bulletin No. 268, Publication 801.
Stanhayen, William H., "Highway Interchanges and Land Use Controls",
Highway and Land Administration, Chief Laws, Research Project.
Stewart, C. L., "Farm Land Values as Affected by ' Road Type and Distance",
Journal of Farm Economics, 1936, page 724 to 735.
Taylor, Maurice C., "The Beneficiaries of Highways and Their Responsibility"
Associate Professor, Agricultural Experimental Experiment State, Montana
State College, Bozeman, Montana.
Taylor, Maurice C., and Infanger, Carl ton A., "Benefi ts From Highway
Development - User and Non-uset!', Department of Agricul ture and Economics
and Rural Sociology, Montana State College, Bozeman, Montana.
Zettel, Richard M., "Effect of Limited Access Highway on Property and
Business Values", Institute .of Transportation and Traffic Engineering,
University of California, 1953.
This bibliography represents only a very minor portion of the research projects
and studies that have been conducted in this field that are available for
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