The Road Taken: The History and Future of America's Infrastructure

The Road Taken The History and Future of America s Infrastructure Physical infrastructure in the United States is crumbling The American Society of Civil Engineers has in its latest report given American roads and bridges a grade of D and C respectively and has

  • Title: The Road Taken: The History and Future of America's Infrastructure
  • Author: Henry Petroski
  • ISBN: 9781632863607
  • Page: 390
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Physical infrastructure in the United States is crumbling The American Society of Civil Engineers has, in its latest report, given American roads and bridges a grade of D and C , respectively, and has described roughly sixty five thousand bridges in the United States as structurally deficient This crisis and one need look no further than the I 35W bridge collapse in MPhysical infrastructure in the United States is crumbling The American Society of Civil Engineers has, in its latest report, given American roads and bridges a grade of D and C , respectively, and has described roughly sixty five thousand bridges in the United States as structurally deficient This crisis and one need look no further than the I 35W bridge collapse in Minnesota to see that it is indeed a crisis shows little sign of abating short of a massive change in attitude amongst politicians and the American public.In The Road Taken, acclaimed historian Henry Petroski explores our core infrastructure from historical and contemporary perspectives and explains how essential their maintenance is to America s economic health Recounting the long history behind America s highway system, Petroski reveals the genesis of our interstate numbering system even roads go east west, odd go north south , the inspiration behind the center line that has divided roads for decades, and the creation of such taken for granted objects as guardrails, stop signs, and traffic lights all crucial parts of our national and local infrastructure His history of the rebuilding of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge reveals the complex and challenging interplay between government and industry inherent in the conception, funding, design, and building of major infrastructure projects, while his forensic analysis of the street he lives on its potholes, gutters, and curbs will engage homeowners everywhere.A compelling work of history, The Road Taken is also an urgent clarion call aimed at American citizens, politicians, and anyone with a vested interest in our economic well being The road we take in the next decade toward rebuilding our aging infrastructure will in large part determine our future national prosperity.

    One thought on “The Road Taken: The History and Future of America's Infrastructure”

    1. I don't have the verbosity today to write a review that properly explains my feelings. The short version is, this book shouldn't say "History" in the title - this is more "Short unrelated essays on my feelings about some bridges and stuff in New York; also I google a little bit and added some things I saw in headlines of a few articles".

    2. Started strong, got bogged down in multiple chapters on politics and financing, fizzled out somewhere around the tenth anecdote about the author's driveway.

    3. OK, so it's probably no surprise that a civil engineer like me loved this book. But it's a great read for anyone interested in the history and nature of our public infrastructure and the ongoing needs that threaten it each day. Petroski is a civil engineering and history professor at Duke University, and I've read most of his other books which are also excellent. He mixes a good amount of interesting history of specific projects with a modern perspective of our ongoing needs and research - from [...]

    4. This is basically a book written by your rambling grandpa who used to be a civil engineer. It's got some really interesting facts about the history of infrastructure sprinkled throughout, but they're buried in a text that is otherwise disorganized, dry, and weirdly pedantic. Petroski feels the need to devote many pages to defining basic terms everyone knows or describing objects familiar to everyone. He has a whole paragraph defining a "shunpike", as though you can't figure out that it just mean [...]

    5. It is a quick read. A basic overview of a handful of the pieces that sum infrastructure.It lacks characters to identify with, whether people or constructed items.This book would be better served as a heavily illustrated version with imagery of all things discussed. Engineering is highly visual and engaging; that part of the story is missing.On the plus side, it is a starting point for a first read on the topic. The projects highlighted offer some scope on how large projects are handled.

    6. At the offset the author states that he will seek to be nonpartisan, but that all writing is bias. Far enough, and I appreciated his candor, so it didn't bother me much when he, inevitably, leaned to one side.I was hoping the read more about the history and future of infrastructure and less Petroski's own personal feelings on the matter, but alas, this was not to be. Still, it's his book he wrote it, so he gets to say what he wants. And say it he does. It seems only he and others like him are gi [...]

    7. I’ve read a number of Henry Petroski’s books in the past, and I’ve enjoyed them all. In this 2016 book, The Road Taken, he delves into the American infrastructure – past, present, and future. He correctly points out, “We tend to be oblivious to much of our infrastructure, even when it is in plain sight, until something goes wrong with it.”However, I could not get into this one. That’s not to say that Petroski hasn’t brought forward a number of important historical and policy disc [...]

    8. Have to agree with reviewers James and Aerin - this seemed focused on the east coast, New York in particular, and had lots of history of politics, not too much I found interesting. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the description or the prior reviewers. I skimmed a lot of this, finding some of the vignettes about bridges or infrastructure more interesting than pages and chapters of government mismanagement, disagreement, partisan politics, and corruption.But I have to acknowledge that, [...]

    9. I bought this book at the local Barnes & Noble (always a gamble). The title intrigued me, but the reviews on the back cover were causes of concern. (If nobody lends their personal name to a book review, leaving newspapers and magazines to do the devil's work, then what you have is certified crap.) Alas, my phone was dead, and the adjacent woman who I WAS NOT attracted to was in no mood to consult online reviews for complete strangers. I ended up buying the book for 18 bucks.Big mistake. Othe [...]

    10. When talking to people who are returning from their first visit to the United States, one sometimes finds that they are surprised that our country is not quite as modern as they anticipated. Indeed, we seem to be letting our infrastructure slide in ways that I didn't think possible when I was younger. Infrastructure is one of those things we take for granted until it's not there and this book points out that we're not keeping up with a sector that is vital to our economy.

    11. I'm a fan of Petroski's work. This one's not his best, but still solid. Seemed repetitive in some chapters. Was selfishly disappointed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was not featured anywhere; I've always considered that quite an automotive marvel. Anyway, anyone keen on engineering history will probably enjoy.

    12. Dry and esotericHowever it was super interesting in parts. Has some great parts on how decision making works and some neat historic stuff.

    13. individual chapters were interesting, but overall felt choppy and didn't create a cohesive thesis or narrative.

    14. I received this book from First Reads in exchange for an honest reviewI strongly disliked this book. It was poorly put-together and constructed (ha!), poorly written, and overall a yawn-inducing book. Maybe it's because the main topic (the conditions of our roads) doesn't quiet interest me as much as it interested (if not infuriated) Petroski.This book wasn't meant for me.

    15. For a subject like infrastructure (itself a term that has come to describe most of the built environment in which our daily existence happens), I found this book to be actually pretty interesting and informative. The Road Taken was not in my reading list and in all likelihood I'd have never considered it if I hadn't come across it on the 'new arrivals' shelf at the local library, prompting an impulse decision to check it out on the spot. In the end I am glad I did, for though there doesn't seem [...]

    16. Paint drying is more interesting. I bought this book to find out more about the roads we drive on everyday. If I was in a civil engineering class, I might like this. The book is hard to read with walls of text. I skimmed most chapters Can't wait to trade this in at the bookstore.

    17. The Road Taken is a mixed bag. I read it on the heels of The Big Roads by Earl Swift, which I thought was excellent, and then wondered if this was wise as The Road Taken suffered by comparison. The Road Taken, regrettably, promises in its title and introduction to do more than The Big Roads — to discuss a broader swath of infrastructure — but ends up doing less, by discussing roads and road bridges almost exclusively, and with a narrative that is less compelling in all aspects.Swift explicit [...]

    18. Deathly dull. Petroski introduces many of his chapters not with a story drawn from the annals of man's long relationship to infrastructure, but rather with an aimless anecdote about a road he once drove on, the culvert in front of his summer home, etc. His chapters frequently denote no clear separation in his prose, and don't reveal their essential content until halfway through.Indeed, what is missing is a sense of historical context, a sense of the author at least TRYING to situate his technica [...]

    19. Review Title: Potholes and politics Engineer Henry Petroski tells us the bad news: 10 percent of America's bridges, carrying 250 million vehicles a day, are structurally deficient and at risk to collapsing without warning, like an Interstate highway bridge crossing the Mississippi in Minneapolis did in 2007, killing 13 people. And bridges actually are given a "passing" C grade in most engineering assessments of American infrastructure: other infrastructure components like roads, tunnels, ports, [...]

    20. Petroski takes a narrative, story-telling approach to engineering problems that encourages the reader to think of bridges, roads, signage and other aspects of infrastructure in the larger context of history, politics, economics and societal needs. It's a good, if not particularly challenging, backgrounder on why we need to maintain, why we should spend on quality, trade-offs in the balance of public vs. private investment, the importance of good design, and the effects of incompetence and corrup [...]

    21. Infrastructure always seems like it has an underappreciated drama, both in the social struggles to build it and in how humans interact with that which is built. This book captures some of that, at times along the lines of Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic, but in a more discursive way. And in a more America-centric one, too: at one point he contrasts some American bridge-building projects with the Millau Viaduct, seeming to foreshadow an account of the latter's design that never really comes. The book is [...]

    22. 3.5 starsWhen a book references Robert Frost and is written by a civil engineer, one should probably expect a degree of lyrical waxing about the subject matterwhich in this case is roads and bridges. While my main interest was the political machinations that affect how our infrastructure is supported—specifically bearing in mind that America's infrastructure has been given a grade of D and Congress has refused to raise the gas tax for ages because it's politically unpopular, even though the ri [...]

    23. 3.5-4 stars. I was a winner!I really appreciated this book - I like how Petroski incorporates historical, current, and future data and anecdotal information to tell the story of our public infrastructure. Signage, pedestrians, highways and bridges are all covered in detail their origins are covered in detail. I do believe that fellow engineers and others who work in the industry will find this book to be worthy of 5 stars, but I came to this book more a fan of the history of common everyday obj [...]

    24. Solid writing. Would have liked more public transit discussion, but given the lack of older transit systems and the focus on older infrastructure it was understandably only the NYC subways that made the discussion.

    25. This was a great look at the history of road infrastructure. It not only delves into the history of the roads as a whole, but specific types of pavement and all the ancillary things (like striping and signs) that make road travel possible. The author also offers what might be done in order to successfully finance infrastructure improvements in the future as well as touches on the automation of vehicles. He refers to The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers [...]

    26. This book covers the history and basics of infrastructure in the US. It covers roads, bridges, subways, trains, drainage and various public necessities that frankly no modern country can exist without. He covers the history and the present condition of this key part of the US economy and the necessity to upgrade this stuff or at least spend some resources to maintain it. It is overlooked and taken for granted but without infrastructure improvements our way of life and material goods we enjoy wil [...]

    27. Reading this book is like receiving a lecture from the most patient and knowledgeable grandpappy. Indeed, I looked him up on YouTube and found that the manner with which I imagined him speaking fit exactly my imagination. He certainly does come across as the most knowledgeable person in the universe in his field, both on paper, and in the flesh. The book was filled with insights, though leaned heavily to the U.S. coasts. There's plenty of fun in the middle to be found. Also, some of the sentence [...]

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