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Interstate 69: 02/16/16

Interstate 69 by Matt Dellinger

Interstate 69 by Matt Dellinger is the history of the last of the interstate highways to be designed and (more or less) built. As planned it should run from Mexico to Canada by way of Texas through to Michigan.

As the last of the highways, it comes with a huge price tag and a ton of resistance and a federal government less willing and less able to just plow through via imminent domain. The highway was originally tied up in NAFTA but now it's the growing pushback by rural — or semi-rural — areas less in love with multilane highways to blindly accept one being built through their farms or towns.

Map of the original proposed Interstate system

When the original interstate system was designed in 1944 the emphasis was on connecting major cities with little or no regard to rural areas. The farmlands and the western states were snubbed. The Texas to Michigan corridor was on the western edge of the highest density of the highways but most of that corridor was too rural.

The book goes through state by state, starting at Michigan to follow the struggle of getting the Interstate built (or keeping it from being built, depending on the state). For each one Dellinger covers the major players who are either for or against the highway. Some of these chapters get a bit tangential straying far from the route to focus on name dropping.

Google Map of Indiana showing the gap in I69

At the publication of Interstate 69 in 2010 there were more gaps in the highway than there are now. That doesn't mean completion is guaranteed: Indiana is holding out, especially in the rural farmlands south of Indianapolis, but more of it has been built, enough to leave an interesting cartographical story of a work in progress on Google Maps.

To see more about this book, please see my notes on Tumblr.

Three stars

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