National Geographic : 1975 Jul
Opposing views? Perhaps, but both are right. We have to be concerned about government expenditures. Most rural roads were built before 1930, and it often requires large sums to update them for today's farm-to market traffic. But it's also true that without usable roads we can't maintain present food production-much less meet the larger needs of tomorrow. Our rural transportation system is falling farther behind every day. Na tional and world food requirements call for massive amounts of fertilizer, fuel, equipment, chemicals, seed, feed and livestock to move to our farms and for ever larger harvests to move to market. Yet we have 46,000 fewer miles of railroad-mostly rural than in 1940. Another 78,000 miles are proposed for abandonment. The result is severe overloading of roads two generations old. Roads de signed for far less traffic and far light er vehicles. Ninety-five percent of pre-1935 rural bridges are still in use. Many of them were built to carry 2-ton loads. Many of today's grain and livestock trucks can carry 20 tons or more. In areas where rural transportation becomes inadequate, farm income is lower. Fields are taken out of crop production. Land values decline. There is less incentive to make the capital investment and personal com mitment required for productive, profitable farm operation. Despite the need for food today, we obviously can't spend all of our tax dollars just to improve rural roads. We can, however, give farm-to-mar ket roads a higher priority in total highway expenditures. Caterpillar is concerned because we manufacture machines used in con struction and maintenance of roads. More importantly, we recognize that the ability to grow and distribute more food with lower costs is vital to the social and economic well-being of our nation. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. Caterpillar,Catand B areTrademarksof CaterpillarTractorCo.