** The Road Taken by Henry Petrosky

 

Written by a transportation engineer, The Road Taken: The History and  Future of America’s Infrastructure is constructed surprisingly loosely as a series of chapters that focus on various subjects, from the construction of the US interstates to specific projects such as replacing our beloved Bay Bridge (I even learned its official name, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, something no local would ever dare say!)

 

If you are interested in the construction of the US highway system, I recommend reading The Big Roads instead, which has more details, especially about the design of the signage of said roads. Some chapters in this book describe the political machinations of specific large infrastructure projects, and the machinations are both tedious and alarming. And the author occasionally veers into the mind-numbing. Would any reader really enjoy a list of the various methods to patch roads? Still, I liked how he described his everyday encounters with roads, telephone poles, and retaining walls, enthusiastically noting fading lines, tilted poles, and handsome retaining walls (he even has a picture of one). We should all have the same level of interest in the infrastructure elements we use every day.

 

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