Transport Economics, Management and Policy series
Chapter 5: Hierarchy
INTRODUCTION Should the federal, state, or local government be accountable for infrastructure’s financing, construction, and management? Both infrastructure networks and government are typically hierarchically organized. However, the slope of the hierarchy (the number of layers it possesses) varies. Management by a government layer that is geographically too small or too large brings about costs which can be avoided by associating the infrastructure with the most appropriate layer of government. In North America, the hierarchy of roads emerged early in the eighteenth century with the division of roads into Great (or Kings) Highways and Common Highways. Great Highways were under the authority of a colony’s Governor and Council, while Common Highways were managed more locally by appointed commissioners or the county court upon presentment of a grand jury or petition (Durrenberger 193 1, p. 18). This corroborates the general observation of present conditions that roads serving longer-distance trips are generally controlled by a higher jurisdiction than those serving more local traffic. Conventional traffic engineering suggests that streets and highways have two distinct functions: through movement and land access (McShane and Roess 1990, p. 37). Highway facilities are classified by the relative amount of movement and access they provide, though the share of each falls on a continuum. Figure 5.1 illustrates the issue. The shaded area reflects the share of the network devoted to land access functions as opposed to network movement. Engineers design roads to fall along the diagonal line of Figure 5.1, although not all do. Local streets are slow...
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