New book reveals unusual facts about the interstate system

What construction project over the last century moved 42 billion cubic yards of earth, used enough concrete to build a 9-foot-deep, 50-foot-high wall around the world and resulted in 62 highways, 54,663 bridges and 104 tunnels? In “The Roads that Built America,” a newly released book by Dan McNichol, unusual facts about the construction and design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower interstate system are revealed and its effects on American society are chronicled.

Started in 1956, the interstate system is the largest on-going construction project the United States has ever undertaken, costing hundreds of billions of dollars over four decades. In the book, McNichol tells stories about the network of 42,795 miles of superhighways, and how their construction helped create today’s suburban life. According to McNichol, without the interstate, businesses like McDonald’s, Holiday Inns, and UPS would not have flourished.

To help publicize the book and gain support for reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, McNichol, who also wrote “The Big Dig” and “The Big Dig at Night”, plans to travel cross-country on the interstate system in a 1951 Hudson Pace Maker, speaking about the importance of the highway system. His tour is sponsored by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association as part of the “Transportation Makes America Work!” campaign. Over the next six weeks, McNicols will travel to Boston; Columbus, Ohio; St. Louis; Denver; Des Moines, Iowa; Phoenix; Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; Oklahoma City; Washington, D.C.; and Nashville, Tenn. to discuss his book.

“The Roads that Built America” is available at ARTBA’s online store for $25, plus shipping and handling, or by e-mailing sdix@artba.org. To visit the ARTBA store, click on the link to the right.