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NORTH-WEST ROADS. GOVERNMENT POUCY. Special Organisation Proposed The Minister for Works (Mr Hawke) said yesterday that the Gov ernment recently considered future policy covering the construction and maintenance of roads in the North West where the use of Government money was involved following the preparation of a joint report on the subject by the Director of Works (Mr Dumas) and the Commissioner of Main Roads (Mr Young). As a result the Government had decided to develop a special organisation under the control of the Main Roads Department for carrying out road work in the North-West to be fin anced from moneys available to the Main Roads Department. The policy over the years had mainly been one of making grants to each local au thority which, in turn, with its own manpower and plant resources, had carried out construction and main tenance work. It had become apparent during the last three years, following the intro duction of modern earth-moving equipment for the construction of aefence works, that the problem of dealing with the immense road mil ages in the North-West might be successfully solved by the use of iuch plant, said Mr Hawke. Steps were now being taken for the com plete mechanisation of the construc tion branch of the Main Roads De partment. This organisation would be able to obtain, as they became available, the costly and heavy units which were essential for the cheap building of road formations extend ing for many hundreds of miles. New Era. Prior to the war the road system m the North-West had been main tained by the North-West branch of the Public Works Department, Mr Hawke explained. The money avail able had been expended on works carried out either by local authori ties or by scattered departmental day labour gangs. Very little mech snial equipment had been available, the general tools used being the pick and shovel. Good work had been done-bad spots had been tackled and made passable, and river cross ings had been given special atten tion-but the day of the pick and shovel was over. As a result of in spections both the Director of Works and the Commissioner of Main Roads were convinced that improvement of road communications was of the ctmost Importance to the North West, and that this could best be effected, when circumstances would permit, by the Main Roads Depart ment locating in that area one or more fully mechanised mobile units for general road construction work. The department had already car ried out extensive improvement work on some 470 miles of the Great Northern Highway between Meeka tharra and Marble Bar and was at present working on the location and construction of sections of the new road from the asbestos mines in the HIamersley Ranges to Roebourne where 70 miles had already been constructed out of the total length of some 200 miles, Mr Hawke said. Under the proposed arrangement, the Assistant Engineer of the PWD in the North-West (Mr Duncan), who was also an officer of the Main Roads Department, would have his headquarters at Carnarvon, where the Resident Engineer of the PWD was also located. These two offi cers would collaborate closely. Post-war Funds. Mr Hawke pointed out that road funds likely to be available for ex penditure in the North-West in future would be from funds under the control of the Commissioner of Main Roads. Close co-operation be tween the Main Roads Department and the local authorities would natu rally be maintained as all the roads in the North-West were actually under the control of the local au thorities 'concerned, there being no "declared" main roads in the whole area. Because the present Federal Aid Road Agreement terminated in June, 1947, it was not possible to predict with any degree of accuracy what road funds might be available in the post-war period. Local authorities, with their lim ited revenues, could not face the pur chase of large construction units, but existing equipment would be useful where large jobs were con cerned and generally would be fully employed on maintenance work On the more important roads and gen tral work on the minor domestic roads and tracks.

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