Interstate 69 is an enlightening journey through the heart of America. With this epic tale of one vast and controversial road project, Matt Dellinger brings to life the country’s complex political, social, and economic landscape.
The 1,400-mile extension of I-69 south from Indianapolis, if completed, will connect Canada to Mexico through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. This so-called NAFTA highway has been in development for two decades, and while segments are under construction today, others may never be built. Eagerly anticipated by many as an economic godsend, I-69 has also been opposed by environmentalists, farmers, ranchers, anarchists, and others who question both the wisdom of building more highways and the merits of globalization.
Part history, part travelogue, Interstate 69 reveals the surprising story of how this extraordinary undertaking began, introduces us to the array of individuals who have worked tirelessly for years to build the road—or to stop it—and guides us through the many places the highway would transform forever: from sprawling cities like Indianapolis, Houston, and Memphis to the small rural towns of the Midwestern rust belt, the Mississippi Delta, and South Texas.
In an era when bridges fall, levies fail, and states lease their toll roads to foreign-owned corporations, Americans are realizing the central importance of infrastructure, how it affects our standard of living and quality of life and how it determines which places prosper and which places fade. This book illustrates vividly that the story of transportation is indeed the story of America—and that story continues.
Matt Dellinger connects these dots with an absorbingly human, on-the-ground examination of our country’s struggle with development. Interstate 69 captures the hopes, dreams, and fears surrounding what we build and what we leave behind.
Matt Dellinger has written for The New Yorker, TheAtlantic, the Oxford American, Smithsonian, TheWall Street Journal magazine, and The New York Times and has reported on transportation and planning for the public radio program The Takeaway. He worked for ten years on staff at The New Yorker as an illustrations editor, the magazine’s first-ever multimedia editor, and the producer and host of The New Yorker Out Loud, the magazine’s first weekly podcast. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.