National Geographic : 1980 Jan
One worries about "paving the world." Another sees roads fulfill ing the promise of fresh, varied, lower-cost food. Who's right? Highways do take land out of production. 10 acres of right-of way for each 2-lane mile. 25 acres for an Interstate mile. Interchange right-of-way can take 50 to 100 acres. An acre can yield 150 bushels of corn, wheat for 1,600 loaves of bread. In a world of population growth, increasing competition for food and liveli hood, understandably some people might ask "Can we afford the luxury of these super roads?" Others talk of roads as a produc tive tool increasing farm yields. Bringing farmers fuel, fertilizer, insecticides, seeds and machinery. Transporting crops and livestock to market. Rushing perishable fruits, vegetables, eggs, to proces sors and consumers. Moving grain to storage and shipping points. Lowering food prices by lowering transportation costs. Im proving variety and quality in grocery stores. Farmers say, "Good roads help keep production up and the transportation costs down." Highways and streets, city and country, take less than 1% of our total land area. Road miles have increased only 18% since 1930. Mostly in suburbs. Traffic, mean while, increased 50% the past de cade. 70% for trucks! Result: heavy travel, roads wearing twice as fast as they are being replaced-a problem accelerated by construc tion costs doubling every decade. Roads bring us our food. And most other things in our lives. That's why we need programs to main tain and improve our highway asset. Caterpillar equipment is used to build and maintain roads and power trucks. We believe Ameri ca's well being rides on our roads. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. W CATERPILLAR Caterpillar,Cat and ®Bare Trademarks of Caterpillar Tractor Co.