Author Taking Book’s Message to Congress

Posted January 26, 2004 at 2:45pm

In an effort to promote his new book “The Roads that Built America,” author Dan McNichol set off on a three-month “homespun book tour,” driving across the country in a vintage 1951 Hudson he bought on eBay.

Three oil changes and 14,000 miles later, McNichol has returned home and is looking to share his unique perspective on the U.S. Interstate highway system with Members of Congress when he comes to Washington on Monday.

The book, which was released in November, chronicles the history and development of the 42,795-mile Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. McNichol looks at the importance of this system from the time of George Washington through five decades of construction in the last half of the 20th century and on into the future.

McNichol, a self-described fifth-generation road builder, feels so strongly about the importance of the American Interstate that he sent every Member of Congress a free copy of his book after its release. He said that with the transportation bill set to be a major issue in the upcoming Congressional session, he hopes to meet with Members on Monday to talk about the importance of the Interstate system in Members’ home districts and the implications of future funding. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, which helped sponsor McNichol’s promotional trip, is also working with him on his Capitol Hill visit.

“I learned a lot when I was writing the book about how critical the roads are to defense and the economy,” McNichol said, citing as an example the importance of the Interstate system during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. From the movement of emergency personnel to the shipment of relief supplies, “the whole country kept moving through the crisis through the Interstate system,” he said.

The book was researched through interviews with federal highway builders, state departments of transportation and local contractors. According to McNichol, it is written “to get the lay person interested. … It shows the good and the bad.”

McNichol is no newcomer to issues facing the American transportation system. In 1991, he was appointed by the White House to serve as a presidential appointee to the Transportation Department. After his work in Washington, he joined the staff of the project director of the massive central artery/tunnel project in Boston more commonly known as the “Big Dig.” And for the past three years, he has traveled across the country speaking about the American Interstate system.