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  5. Nov. 4 author lecture to spark dialog about ailing U.S. infrastructure

Nov. 4 author lecture to spark dialog about ailing U.S. infrastructure

Dan McNichol says his reliance on a rusty 1949 Hudson symbolizes America's reliance on outdated infrastructure.

Author Dan McNichol will visit UW-Madison November 4 to discuss the poor condition of the U.S. transportation infrastructure with College of Engineering faculty, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, and other authorities on infrastructure. McNichol comes to Madison as part of his Dire States tour, in which he’s urging Americans to revive their roads, bridges, dams and other critical pieces of infrastructure. The tour is sponsored by Racine, Wisconsin-based Case Construction Equipment.

To illustrate that America relies on a lot of old, ailing equipment—which earned our country a D+ grade on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure—McNichol is making his cross-country journey in a rusty 1949 Hudson car. The Hudson, nicknamed “Mrs. Martin,” will be parked in front of Engineering Hall during McNichol’s visit.

“Our antiquated rails, roads, ports and grid are becoming a liability, not an asset,” McNichol says. 

Based in Boston, McNichol has written and commented extensively about America’s roads. His books include The Big Dig (2000) and The Roads That Built America (2005). 

McNichol will give a lecture at 3:30 p.m. in 1610 Engineering Hall. At 4:30, he will join a panel discussion with Gottlieb, UW-Madison Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Craig Benson, and Strand Associates Project Manager and ASCE Wisconsin Section President Jon Lindert. The panel will be moderated by David Noyce, UW-Madison professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory and the Wisconsin Driving Simulator Laboratory. The event will conclude with a reception at 5:15 p.m. 

The event is free and open to the public and the UW-Madison community. The event will also be available for a live webcast and viewing after the fact at

Scott Gordon