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MANAGEMENT OF ROAD WORKS.
When a new road is to be made, as soon as the precise line of it is finally determined upon, the following circumstances should be particularly attended to.
I. Drawings to show, 1st, the natural surface of the ground; 2nd, the longitudinal inclinations of the proposed road; 3d, the slopes of the cuttings and embankments; 4th, the form of the bed of the road, and footpath ; and 5th, the courses of materials to be laid on, and the thickness of each course.
Drawings should also be made, describing the plans of the bridges, culverts, cross drains, inlets, outlets, depôts, and fences which are required to be made.
II. A specification should be prepared, to explain in detail the precise method of executing every part of the work.
III. After the specification has been settled, an estimate should be made of the expense to be incurred.
The following is the estimate for making part of the Holyhead Road, near Coventry:
Seven Stars to Coventry.
S. d. £ S. d.
1004 12 6
1458 11 0
470 2 0
50 0 0 To forming
100 0 0 To sodding
100 0 0 To depôts
48 0 0 To bridge
670 0 0 To side roads
20 0 0
8 0 0
130 0 0
81 0 0
4140 5 6 SECOND DIVISION:
Coventry to Allesley.
1462 2 6
2820 0 0 To 3760 lineal yards of fencing, at 5s.
940 0 0 To drains
95 0 0 To forming
100 0 0 To sodding
156 0 0
16 5 0 To side roads
19 0 0 To Allesley bridge
82 3 6 To skew culvert
150 0 0 To depôts
96 0 0
5936 11 0 Miles Yards Length of First 1 122
10076 16 51 Division Length of Second
2 240 Division
Total Length 3 362 • The stones used for this road were brought eight mil from the quarries at Hartshill near Nuneaton.
IV. The next step to be taken, is to make a contract for executing the work.
Contract work is commonly supposed to be preferable to other work, for no other reason than because it is the cheapest, but experience shows that, when it is properly regulated, it is by far the best mode of securing sound and durable work. This, however, will not be the case if the contracts and specifications are prepared by unskilful and inexperienced persons, if inspection is omitted, and if the contractors are driven by excess of competition to make bad bargains.
But if the plans, specifications, and estimates for making a road are properly prepared, then the most safe and satisfactory way of having the work properly executed will be by letting it to a contractor.
As there is no difficulty in making an accurate estimate of the sum which a new road ought to cost, if a contractor of established reputation for skill and integrity, and possessing sufficient capital, is willing to undertake the work for the estimated sum, it will always be decidedly better to make an agreement with him than to advertise for tenders.
If a contractor cannot be got, possessing the qualifications which he ought to have to justify a private arrangement, then an advertisement
must be had recourse to. But when tenders are delivered in, it is very important to take care to act upon right principles in making a selection from them. The preference should invariably be decided on by taking into consideration the skill, integrity, and capital of the persons who make the tenders, as well as the prices which they offer ; for if a contractor be selected without skill, or integrity, or capital, merely because his tender is for the smallest sum, the consequence will inevitably be imperfect work, every kind of trouble and disappointment, and frequently expensive litigation.
The true principle to go upon in selecting a contractor is to lean in favour of liberal terms; and rather to overpay than underpay him. He should be made quite confident by his bargain, that he will receive a fair profit for his time and labour; he will then embark in his work with spirit, and be led by a desire to gain reputation to perform his agreement to the satisfaction of all parties ; but when, in following an opposite principle, a contractor is led by competition to undertake a work for a price that is too low, he starts, from the commencement, by having recourse to every species of contrivance for avoiding the fair fulfilment of what he is required to perform; every thing is done in an imperfect
way; sub-contracts are made at inadequate prices, a continual contest is carried on between the contractor and the inspector, and most commonly the whole concludes in a law-suit, the ruin of the contractor and his securities, and great loss to tradesmen and others by debts due by the contractor and his workmen.
V. After fixing upon a contractor, a deed of contract is to be prepared. In this the contractor should be bound to execute the work not only according to the general conditions contained in the deed, but also according to drawings and specifications to be annexed to it.
The deed should contain a clause to provide that no deviation should be made from it or the specifications, except by agreement in writing ; and also a clause to provide for settling all disputes by arbitration. The other clauses which are fit to be inserted in the deed will hereafter be described, by inserting an exact copy of a deed, according to which a part of the Holyhead Road was made.
VI. Before the work is commenced, an inspector should be appointed to lay out the work, to settle the levels, and to see that every particular thing required to be done, is done
precisely according to the specifications.
A person to be qualified to act as an inspector