Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway by Matt Dellinger tells the story what may prove to be the nation's last major new territory superhighway. A road that was originally intended to reach rural counties in Indiana that have been left behind by a globalized economy, Interstate 69 morphed into a massive Mexico to Canada behemoth, and become known (for a time) as the "Nafta Superhighway."
To enjoy this book as much I did you should share with me the following characteristics:
- A fascination (or obsession) with infrastructure. If you love the National Geographic series "MegaStructures" then I recommend this book. Even if you like to hang out in the server room at your campus you may enjoy this book.
- A curiosity about the economics of transportation. Interstate 69 got wrapped up in the whole debate about private toll roads and peak pricing - fascinating.
- An interest in the tension between globalization and sustainable development, between preserving authentic places and creating economic opportunities for workers.
It is never clear from the story if building Interstate 69 is a good idea or not. Dellinger tells the stories of those who fought the highway, arguing for improvements in local roads as a way to save money and preserve local quality of life. And he tells the story of the highway boosters, who are convinced that without major highways large parts of the rural Midwest and South will grow ever more economically marginalized.
A great read, and an excellent companion piece to Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism by Richard C. Longworth
What are you reading? Seriously.