Street Paving and Excavating.
WHEN it is evident that a roadway needs repairing the municipal authorities proceed with the work, and the people immediately interested—the propertyholders along the line of the proposed improvement—rejoice at the prospect of securing a good, substantial and durable pavement. In many cases their confidence is, however, rudely shaken by the appearance of the laborers to tear up the roadway almost immediately after the pavement has been improved.
It is a well-known fact that it is exceedingly difficult to restore portions of a torn up pavement to anything like its original condition as to evenness and avoid the possibility of its settling below the original grade surface of the pavement. There is scarcely a roadway in New York city or Brooklyn that is improved in the matter of street paving that is not torn up almost as soon as it is laid down, and it would seem from the facts thus proved that gross negligence to a considerable degree exists somewhere in the administration of this branch of municipal affairs.
In the majority of cases it would be an easy matter to notify propertyholders on the line of proposed improvements to cause an examination of the service pipes to be made, as well as into the condition of the stop-cock boxes. It will be found that through ignorance and indifference, which may exist among many propertyholders, much needed repairs and betterments are neglected which otherwise would be made if they were notified of the necessity for doing it prior to repairing or improving the roadway. Again, it shows the necessity for first-class construction in the matter of introducing sewer, gas and water pipes to dwellings and other buildings.
There are rules and regulations enough, but unfortunately the department controlling these matters has a class of inspectors in many instances that are engaged in other business and have no time to devote to the public affairs, although paid for it. It would also seem that in the march of improve ment in the use of durable and permanent materials for constructing service pipes, a few charter amendments would be beneficial in the way of prohibiting the use of certain material that has comparatively but a brief duration in the earth when placed there, and is the frequent cause of Tipping up good paving. In many cases the same kind of material is used again to replace the old.
With these facts in view, everywhere acknowledged by those competent to judge of the merits of the case, is it not time for the practical-minded engineer, in charge of public works, to enter his protest against what he knows if used only vitiates his best efforts to promote the permanency and efficiency of good pavement and facilitate the means employed to keep it clean ? It is everywhere acknowledged that a city possessing well-paved streets can keep them clean at much less expense than if indifferently paved. It will be of some interest to note and watch the improved pavement recently placed on Broadway in connection with the cable road construction. How long will it be suffered to remain ? Is it not a disgrace to the city of New York that a doubt should even exist as to the new pavement being allowed to remain in its bed for a length of time without being disturbed ? Is there not a line to be drawn, at which the people of New York city shall call the attention of private corporations to halt and cease imposing upon the rights of the people to an uninterrupted use of the roadways of New York city for at least a limited time ?
The condition of the streets of New York city at the present time excites the disgust and indignation of its people, who are obliged to submit to more than ordinary inconvenience in traveling through them. The loss of time and interruption to transportation cannot be estimated.
TAKING all the circumstances into consideration, one cannot feel much surprise at the burning of the engine-house of the water-works at Glasgow, Ry., the other day. Crude oil was used for fuel and some of the fluid had run out upon the floor of the house, when an employee conceived the brilliant idea of cleaning it up by means of fire, and threw some live coals upon it. His next bright move when, astonishing to relate, a blaze broke out, was to heave a pail of water upon the burning oil, spreading the flames through the building, and the whole plant, with a 75-barrel tank of fuel petroleum, which, we are told, adjoined the works, was destroyed, and the place will have to rely for water until the plant can be replaced upon a small supply in the reservoir and some wells and cisterns. It is probably safe to predict that when the water company rebuilds its house the petroleum tank will be put up at a little safer distance, also that the men in charge shall possess some slight knowledge of the properties of that fluid.
UPON an examination of the many annual reports of water-works companies, it is found that water metres are beginning to assert their utility to a marked degree in connection with the main point to be attained in their use, namely, the abridgement of the waste of water. It is surprising what progress has been made in their adoption, and their use settles many vexed questions regarding the local features of distribution. It is a very easy matter to determine the accuracy of registration. The educational effect of a water metre is determined immediately upon the thoughtful mind of the water consumer, after he has received his first monthly or quarterly bill. If the bill shows a large consumption of water, an investigation of water fixtures follows, and the result is manifest in the figures of the second bill, when compared with the first, as the leaks are discovered and remedied. It was thought by many able minds at one time that the effect of a water metre administration would abridge water consumption to a degree that would interfere with its use in effecting proper flushing methods in the use of water closets. The approved flushing apparatus connected with the modern water closet, now in general use in modern plumbing, upon the contrary, however, proves to effect a saving by doing away with the old-fashioned leaky valves. This is one of the phases of education worked out by the water metre ; it stops waste, but does not curtail a liberal use and proper application of water. In some of the annual reports, herewith alluded to, is shown an annual increase of 100 per cent in the use of water metres. The increase of the water metre business shows conclusively that as a conservator of the plant of a water company there is nothing in the realm of applied mechanics that has such a potent and permanent effect upon the methods of the distribution of water as this device.
THE sum of $2,296,282 has been allowed to the New York Fire Commissioners for the expenses of the fire department for the year 1892. The commissioners had asked for $2,677,997, of which $265,000 was for new engine houses ; but this item was cut down to $88,000, while, instead of the desired $468,000 for new apparatus and repairs, but $374,000 were allowed, and a wished-for addition of $100,000 t^ the pay roll was reduced to $40,000. These allowances by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment are provisional, and further reductions may yet be made, but those familiar with the needs of the service will trust that there may not be. The crying necessity for the establishment of additional companies in the upper part of the city is too well known to call for any further reference, but these companies cannot be put in service until suitable houses have been built and provision made for apparatus and equipments, and it is a matter for regret that the fire commissioners’ repeated requests for appropriations for these purposes have not been met in a more liberal spirit. The money for a considerable and greatly needed addition to the force of the service, for the protection of the upper wards, will have to be paid sooner or later, and it would be the wiser course to pay it at once and give to the residents and propertyowners the full security which they demand, rather than, as has been the case, to allow the rapid increase in building operations to leave the means of fire protection always in the rear. It is to be noted that in the allowance for the building bureau provision has been made for the employment of ten more inspectors, which is all very well in itself, but, if such tragedies as that in Park Place are to be guarded against in future, some radical change will have to be made in the laws governing inspections; the mere addition of a few men to the force of the bureau cannot be expected to accomplish much under the existing regulations.
IT will doubtless afford gratification to New Yorkers to learn from the report of Superintendent Ewing, who recently returned from attendance at the Health Congress, at London, that after having taken some pains to study sanitary methods in London and Paris, he is convinced that in general sanitary work New York is ahead. He says that the streets in Paris are cleaner than New York streets because the pavements are better and there is a more liberal use of water in flushing the gutters. His participation in the Health Congress in London was both pleasant and instructive, but he considers the exhibits of the New York Health Department at the congress to have been by far the largest and best. It is all very comforting to be told this, but the average Gothamite who has been blinded and choked by dust, or has waded through the filth of our streets these many weary moons past, while thousands upon thousand of dollars have been spent upon the so-called “street cleaning” operations, which didn’t clean, will need to see some little improvement jn this particular before becoming unduly elated over the alleged superiority of the city in matters sanitary The new commissioner of street cleaning, Mr. Brennan, is, however, an energetic man of great executive experience in the public service, and it is generally expected that some improvement will soon be manifest in the work of his department.