Dire States: Former road builder drives rust bucket across America to demonstrate the sorry state of infrastructure

Updated Sep 26, 2013

Dan McNichol and the '49 HudsonWhat do a 1949 Hudson Commodore and America’s infrastructure have in common?

They’re both old, neglected and in need of refurbishment.

Inspired by the D+ grade given to America’s infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Case Construction Equipment and infrastructure author Dan McNichol have decided to set out on a tour across the country aimed at finding ways to improve the country’s infrastructure while shining the spotlight on the folks already doing so.

They’ll be looking to find ways to bring contractors, citizens and government officials together to identify new and innovative ways to put America’s infrastructure back on a sustainable path.

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While they travel they’re sure to grab the attention of folks along the way since they’ll be making the trip in a 1949 Hudson that McNichol describes is “as old, rusty and energy defunct as our vital (infrastructure) systems.”

The Hudson was originally purchased in 1949 for $2,900, but sat up on blocks in upstate New York for decades. The odometer read just 31,856 miles when a friend of McNichol found it. The two bought it for $2,500. They also gave it a “new” engine from a ’51 Hudson, outfitted it with modern AC and brakes, but otherwise left the old car in its rusty state for their trip across the country.

“Depending on this old car to get you to work everyday is as foolish as depending on our current systems for everything we need to function as a society,” McNichol said.

Dubbed Dire States, the tour will basically form a documentary formed out of journal entries with videos, photos and more being posted to the tour’s website DireStates.com as well as CaseCE.com.

A fifth-generation road builder from Boston, McNichol learned construction working for his father’s company D. J. McNichol Construction. He was appointed by President Bush (41) to work for the United States Department of Transportation. He served as a spokesperson for Boston’s Big Dig project and has published four books  on related topics.

The tour will begin in Massachusetts, and after include stops at more than 20 Case dealers throughout the U.S., will end with an event in March, 2014 at ConExpo in Las Vegas.