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WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, D. C., April 18, 1980. Hon. Hiram W. JOHNSON, Chairman Committee on Commerce,

United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR JOHNSON: Careful consideration has been given to S. 3965, to authorize the Secretary of War to grant an easement to the Wabash Railway Co. over the St. Charles Rifle Range, St. Louis County, Mo., which you transmitted to the War Department under date of March 20, 1930, for suggestions touching the merits of the bill and the propriety of its passage.

The existing law having a relation to the subject matter of S. 3965 is the act of February 7, 1930, which gave the consent of Congress to the construction by the Wabash Railway Co. of a bridge across the Missouri River at St. Charles, Mo. The Secretary of War does not possess any authority to grant easements for rights of way for the location and construction of railroad facilities of a permanent nature. S. 3965 will enable the Secretary of War to grant a right of way to the Wabash Railway Co. across the said range to be used for an approach to said bridge, it appearing that soundings made by the railway company to locate a site for the bridge indicate that the only satisfactory crossing of the river is in front of said range.

The approach to be located on the 100-foot right of way to be authorized by S. 3965 will consist of a doulbe track steel trestle approximately in the center of the range, the right of way embracing an area of 5.28 acres.

This reservation is owned by the United States, having been purchased for use by the Missouri National Guard as a target range and camping ground, and is at present being used for that purpose.

The location of the proposed right of way will destroy the utility of two target ranges, one of which is for 200 and 300 yards firing and the other for 500 and 600 yards. The two pits each contain 10 targets. At present the National Guard is firing only 200 yards, and consequently uses but one pit. The present pits are subject to seepage at certain stages of the Missouri River and frequently can not be used. The railway company proposes providing a waterproof concrete pit with 15 targets and a new range suitable for firing at 200, 300, 500, and 600 yards. A new butt will be constructed in the rear of the pit and the range otherwise improved. The company will also duplicate the present buildings in a more suitable location, as well as extend the road thereto. The company estimates the cost of this work at $32,500, which estimate is considered liberal. If such expenditure is made, the cost to the railway company will be approximately $6,155 per acre for the area of 5.28 acres embraced in the right of way.

If S. 3965 is enacted into law and an easement granted, it may be necessary to require the railway company to provide additional land beyond the rifle butts as a safety zone from ricochets. As the proposed legislation will authorize the granting of the easement on "such terms and conditions” as the Secretary of War may prescribe, the grant can be made conditioned upon the railway company providing such additional land, if further investigation establishes that such action is necessary.

The National Guard authorities state that when this construction is completed the National Guard will be better served than at present, and recommend that the permission desired by the railway company be granted. The proposed legislation will not require any appropriation of public funds and will not involve the United States in any expense. Its passage is favored by the War Department. Sincerely yours,

F. TRUBEE Davison,

Acting Secretary of War. O

ESTABLISHMENT OF AIR MAIL ROUTES

APRIL 21 (calendar day, APRIL 24), 1930.-Ordered to be printed

Mr. Phipps, from the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads,

submitted the following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 11704)

The Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, having considered the bill (H. R. 11704) to amend the air mail act of February 2, 1925, as amended by the acts of June 3, 1926, and May 17, 1928, further to encourage commercial aviation by authorizing the Postmaster General to establish air mail routes, reports the same with the unanimous recommendation that the bill do pass.

The existing law relating to contracts for carrying air mail was framed with a view of developing volume of mail sufficient to warrant the service and it has served that purpose.

Revision of that law has now become a necessity.

Under the present law contracts are made on the basis of weight, without regard to the distance carried, up to 1,000 miles. The maximum rate is $3 per pound whether the distance operated is 1,000 miles or 10 miles. There are 25 air mail lines now in operation with rates varying, in some instances, from $3 per pound for short distances to 78 cents per pound for very much greater distances. For example, the rate per pound paid to the contractor for carrying air mail from New York to Chiacgo, 718 miles, is $0.68; New York to Boston, 192 miles, is $3; Chicago to Atlanta, 768 miles, is $0.78; Cleveland to Pittsburgh, 123 miles, is $4, the latter rate being 2,500 per cent greater than the rate from Chicago to Atlanta with regard to the distance carried. Some of the present rates are too high and some are below the actual cost of operation, and, therefore, too low.

A further objection to the present law as developed by experience is that where the compensation is based on weight without regard to distance it creates an inducement to the contractor to swell his volume by unethical practices. It was stated by the Postmaster General, however, that, generally speaking, the department had no criticism of the practices of the air-mail contractors.

The principal feature of the proposed bill is that it would authorize the Postmaster General "to award contracts for the transportation of air mail by aircraft to the lowest responsible bidder at fixed rates per mile for definite weight spaces" instead of awarding contracts on the basis of poundage alone without regard to distance. It would further authorize the Postmaster General in cases where the volume of air mail moving between the designated points does not exceed 25 cubic feet or 225 pounds to award to the lowest responsible bidder who has owned and operated an air transportation service on a fixed daily schedule over a distance of not less than 250 miles and for a period of not less than six months prior to the advertisement for bids, a contract at a rate not to exceed 40 cents per mile for a weight space of 25 cubic feet or 225 pounds.

The foregoing provision is designed to authorize contracts with some of the passenger-carrying lines which are now unable to contract for carrying air mail for small amounts of space at proportionately lower rates per mile. This feature would make possible at relatively small increase in cost the extension of air mail service to points where it can not now be provided. The requirements that bidders must have "owned and operated an air transportation service on a fixed daily schedule over a distance of not less than 250 miles and for a period of not less than six months prior to the advertisement for bids” are designed to prevent the securing of contracts by those who have had no actual experience in flying on fixed daily schedules under any and all flying conditions and no first-hand knowledge of operating costs. It is believed that bona fide operating companies which have been the pioneers in air transportation and have gained valuable experience at great financial loss, and even the sacrifice of many lives, are entitled to this consideration in bidding.

For the first 11 months of the year 1929, the Post Office Department paid an average of $1.05 a mile for air-mail service. The department estimates that under the new law contracts for present service could be revised to bring the average cost down to 72 cents per mile.

Section 6 is a reenactment of the act of May 17, 1928 (39 U. S. C. 461), with such modifications as are necessary by reason of the provisions of section 4 of this act as to compensation based on mileage.

Section 7 authorizes extensions or consolidations of existing routes. At the present time the scheme of air-mail routes which has grown a little at a time is illogical. There are short lines and there are long lines, some of which should be consolidated and others which should be extended.

Section 8 is drawn to enable the Post Office Department to do with the air mail as it does with the railway mail, i. e., to treat as domestic a line which serves mostly domestic points but which crosses the international boundary line into Canada, without the necessity of stopping at a point before crossing the boundary line and letting a foreign air-mail contract for crossing the border.

Finally, it should be frankly stated that while aviation has unquestionably demonstrated its economic importance, it is not as yet on a self-supporting basis in the United States or any other country. The air mail at the present stage of development is necessarily the backbone of commercial aviation. The American people have shown enterprise, courage, and faith in their support of aviation. If private capital is to continue our national progress in this field, it must have some reasonable hope of at least a fair return on capital actually invested. Congress has recognized the wisdom and the importance of fostering commercial aviation both from the standpoint of its necessity in connection with the national defense and the necessity of maintaining our national position in industry and commerce.

то fail to continue support at this critical time would possibly result in the loss of all the progress made.

The Postmaster General appeared personally before the committeo in behalf of the bill, which has the earnest support of the department. Prompt action is deemed advisable for the reason that many airmail contracts expire early in May, 1930.

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