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Chapter 20. Reflections and Appraisals

Volume 1 Part 7
Brief résumé of Chapter 20:
Reflections and Appraisals

A. Goldstein CBE, BSc(Eng), FCGI, DIC, FEng
formerly Senior Partner, R. Travers Morgan and Partners

Chapter 20The eminent consultant civil engineer, Mr Alfred Goldstein CBE, as a partner (youthfully promoted Senior Partner) in the firm of R. Travers Morgan and Partners, was involved in several capacities with the first four decades of the motorway programme, both under contracts for bridges and other works requiring design and construction supervision, and in advisory roles within Government funded studies and within his profession and the Royal Academy of Engineering. His insights distinguish as a notable achievement the twelve years work done from the Ministry's standing start upon the motorway programme in 1955., with the professional engineers' work distributed by the Ministry between consultants and County Surveyors' Departments acting as its agents. He regards the next twelve years, when this work was transferred to the Road Construction Unit (RCU) organisation, staffed in part from the Ministry but mainly from the County Surveyors' Departments and thus with reduced scope for consultant engineers, as insufficiently forthcoming in presenting real achievements. The break up of the RCU's marked a turning point.

Against this broad background Alfred Goldstein presents some the formative features of operating arrangements in which he was able to make the case for change; or, where he regards practice as having been flawed, citing experience of his own as a reluctant objector, where standard RCU procedure proved to have been flawed. He criticises the early practice of confining the specification of motorways to dual 2 lane carriageways; adds criticism of the implicit compromises and obfuscation used in standard forms of contract; and, to the detriment of their value as guides for judgement, notes the distortion of mathematical models of future traffic conditions as they were altered to achieve conformity with existing and subsequent datasets. He also illustrates scope for successful representations from his experience of argument about the principles of costing and about the terms of compulsory purchase. He cites instances of his successes in informal public consultation and as a formal objector to a motorway interchange proposal. His working experience and his grasp of the significance of relevant historical research led to his careful evaluation of alternative routes for the M23 in the 1960s.

His overall judgement of the past is that value with integrity was delivered from building motorways; of the future, he believes that given restrictive and even crowded conditions, a more favourable public response to them should be expected, and, given sensitivity in public consultation, that should result in some resumption of interest in extending an economically beneficial programme. In future new roads (like earlier ones) will be economically and environmentally beneficial both in by-passing towns, providing a range of safety benefits as well as enhancing formal householder surpluses on residential properties.