Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/361

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347
THE GREAT BRIDGE AND ITS LESSONS.

bridge and the increase in strength rendered necessary by a better comprehension of the volume of traffic between the two cities. The items covered by the original estimate of $7,000,000 have thus been raised to $9,000,000, so that $2,000,000 represents the addition to the original estimates, and for this excess, amounting to less than thirty per cent, there is actual value in the bridge in increased dimensions and strength, whereby its capacity has been greatly increased.

The carriage-ways, as originally designed, would have permitted only a single line of vehicles in each direction. The speed of the entire procession, more than a mile long, would therefore have been limited by the rate of the slowest; and every accident causing stoppage to a single cart would have stopped everything behind it for an indefinite period. It is not too much to say that the removal of this objection, by widening the carriage-ways, has multiplied manifold the practical usefulness of the bridge.

The statement I have made is due to the memory not only of John A. Roebling, but also of Henry C. Murphy, that great man, who devoted his last years to this enterprise; and who, having, like Moses, led the people through the toilsome way, was permitted only to look, but not to enter, upon the promised land.

This testimony is due also to the living trustees, and to the engineers who have controlled and directed this large expenditure in the public service—the latter, in the conscientious discharge of professional duty; and the former, with no other object than the welfare of the public, and without any other possible reward than the good opinion of their fellow-citizens.

I do not make this statement without a full sense of the responsibility which it involves, and I realize that its accuracy will shortly be tested by the report of experts who are now examining the accounts. But it will be found that I have spoken the words of truth and soberness. When the ring absconded, I was asked by William C. Havemeyer, then the Mayor of New 'York, to become a trustee, in order to investigate the expenditures, and to report as to the propriety of going on with the work. This duty was performed without fear or favor. The methods by which the ring proposed to benefit themselves were clear enough, but its members fled before they succeeded in reimbursing themselves for the preliminary expenses which they had defrayed. With their flight a new era commenced, and, during the three years when I acted as a trustee, I am sure that no fraud was committed, and that none was possible. Since that date the board has been controlled by trustees, some of whom are thorough experts in bridge-building, and the others men of such high character that the suggestion of malpractice is improbable to absurdity.

The bridge has not only been honestly built, but it may be safely asserted that it could not now be duplicated at the same cost. Much money might, however, have been saved if the work had not been