Sir, I see from Mr. Conway’s letter that the “moaning season” has started. His ill-informed comment that surface dressing is ineffective has spurred me to reply. Surface dressing is not ineffective, its purpose is to waterproof the road surface, and more important, the road foundation. We could use neat tar just as effectively, but then he would moan because the surface would be very slippery—and sticky in warm weather!
The whole matter is one of economics. Tar-spraying and chipping is reasonably cheap and about three times as much road can be treated than with the next cheapest method. Why do windscreens shatter? Mainly for two reasons, toughened glass is cheaper than laminated glass, and motorists hurry to save time and time is money. I am not an advocate of this method of surface dressing and much prefer the use of machine laid coated materials—but then I am in an urbanised area where the return of rates is reasonably high per mile of road and more resources are available to me. I sympathise with my County colleagues who have miles of little used country lanes and very limited budgets to work with.
Both Mr. Conway and you, sir, ought to understand how we finance road maintenance before slinging brickbats. How roadwork maintenance should be financed is another matter. Just sit back and think what your rates finance – schools, sewers, libraries, parks, playgrounds, housing, street lighting, planning, playing fields, swimming pools, car parks, lay-bys, litter bins and collection, to name but a few – just think of land prices today and you will see what I mean about surface dressings! Or would you both prefer roads full of potholes upon which your springs (reduced to a minimum to save money) would break up? – it would mean we could save money by not having to provide speed limit signs!
I shall still continue to subscribe to your magazine as I have done for the past twenty years – I bear no grudges! I shall continue “Fiating” along surface dressed roads at sensible speeds, having heeded the warnings of loose chippings, for many more years, no doubt looking forward to the day when some beneficient authority gives me sufficient money to make all my roads perfect in one fell swoop!
Engineer and Surveyor, Dawley UDC.