Channel 19

Todd Dills

Built by the New Deal

| November 16, 2007

Five former Civilian Conservation Corps members, all in their 80s and 90s, attended their annual reunion at Maryland’s Gambrill State Park, reports iThe Frederick News-Post in this story.

How does this pertain to trucking? As Americans debate how best to get our 21st-century roads and bridges built, it may be worth remembering that a lot of the national infrastructure we now take for granted was built during the Depression by thousands of workers mobilized and inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A new book by Robert D. Leighninger Jr. is titled iLong-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal (University of South Carolina Press, $24.95). In the Nov. 8 issue of iThe New York Review of Books, Benjamin M. Friedman describes Leighninger’s catalog of “>long-term physical contributions” built by the CCC and other emergency agencies

They include hospitals, schools, auditoriums, museums, courthouses, city halls, fire stations, waterworks, parks, fairgrounds, farmers’ markets, and countless other facilities, many of which are still in use today. He not only describes many of these projects but supplements his written account with photographs (many that he took himself) of such well-known sites as Hoover Dam, San Francisco’s Cow Palace, Washington’s Reagan National Airport, and Houston’s City Hall, as well as lesser-known ones like San Antonio’s River Walk, Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, the Mountain Theater on California’s Mount Tamalpais, and the Eighteenth Precinct police station in New York City. Especially in view of the tragic collapse in early August of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, first opened in 1967, it is all the more impressive that earlier, depression-era contributions to America’s transportation system like New York’s Triborough Bridge and the San Francisco Bay Bridge are still in place, carrying traffic every day.

Who’s mobilizing and inspiring Americans to build needed roads and bridges today? strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.

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Todd Dills

Todd Dills is Senior Editor of Overdrive magazine and writes from Nashville, Tenn. He frequently covers business, regulatory and lifestyle topics for the magazine and at His work on the “CSA’s Data Trail” series in Overdrive about the federal CSA program was awarded the highest honor in trade journalism – the “Grand Neal” – by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards. Dills’ Channel 19 blog covers a grab bag of on-highway hearsay, owner-operator news and driver views from the roadways the nation over. His work in trucking journalism builds on a background of news feature, fiction and other creative writing and editing. Find him here at the Channel 19 blog and via his Twitter feed, or send tips to or via phone at 205-907-2481.


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