From our archives: Burgeoning vehicle numbers created a ‘crisis’
What we thought: 50 years ago
Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following editorial appeared in the Telegraph on Jan. 16, 1963.
The other day, a forum of nine panelists, assembled in Washington, managed to discuss the nation’s “transportation crisis” for two hours with hardly a mention of the private automobile.
Yet everyone agrees that the motor car has had immense impact on the country’s changing transportation patterns. And government studies suggest that effect will be even greater in the next 12 to 15 years.
At the last official check, there were 63 million private passenger vehicles on streets and highways. The figure including trucks and buses was nearly 76 million. At the end of World War II, the overall total was 31 million, with some 22 million private cars.
Passenger automobiles in 1960 traveled close to 600 million vehicle-miles. In 1945, the figure was 200 million.
Henry Shryock of the Census Bureau points out that two-thirds of all U.S. workers use a car in getting between home and work. In the metropolitan areas of 100,000 or more people, 82 percent of those who commute to central cities rely on cars.
The official population projections for the years up to 1975 indicate, of course, still further concentrations of our population in urban regions. By 1975, it is estimated, 150 million Americans may live in the 212 largest metropolitan areas. That is just 38 million less than the total U.S. population today.
Bureau of Public Roads officials suggest, furthermore, that passenger car registrations – and motor travel – may in the same span rise considerably faster than population itself.
The great push to the suburbs is, naturally, a key factor in all this growth. Only the motor car has proved quickly adaptable to the transportation needs of sprawled-out urban centers.
Not everybody thinks the suburban revolution will continue apace. One A.F. Parrott of the American Statistical Association suggested in 1960 that the movement is slackening. But Census officials argue that there is scant evidence of this so far.
Meantime, the crush in transportation seems merely to get worse, as does the cost of trying to ease it. Fancy million-dollar-a-mile urban beltways open one day, and two months later chalk up bumper-to-bumper rush-hour loads.
If there is a “transportation crisis,” it is fair to suggest that this is it. And even those gatherings of experts which do mention the motor car appear to have no ready solutions.
It is with great pride that we congratulate Sherwood Dees for his appointment to a top post under our newly-elected Ray Page, superintendent of Public Instruction of the state of Illinois. This community’s loss will be the state’s gain.
We will miss Sherwood Dees, but we are happy that he has been singled out for this great honor. The many friends that he has made in Dixon know him to be an exceptionally fine educator, a dedicated man with honor, a hard worker, a man of strong convictions, and with all this he is also a most kind and friendly person.
We think in writing these few words we are expressing the sentiments of most of the people of our community.