SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Orange barrels, lane closures, detours and delays bring streets and highways to the attention of a disgruntled public that otherwise takes them for granted. Not so for Wittenberg University alumnus Dan McNichol, class of 1984, who developed an interest in America’s roadways as a youth working in his family’s construction business.
McNichol shares his expertise in the documentary “Modern Marvels: Paving America,” which will air July 5 on The History Channel. The filming involved several weeks of extensive travel for McNichol with the documentary’s production team. He provides narrative as a consultant and historian in the program.
Their travels took them to Colorado, Texas, Alabama and Washington, D.C., where they filmed from the Zero Milestone, the point where all miles are supposedly measured from, behind the White House.
They also filmed in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia on the National Road (U.S. Route 40, which runs through Springfield). Along the way, the crew passed the “Wheeling Suspension Bridge I used to pass on my way to and from Wittenberg,” McNichol said. “It was exhausting and exciting.”
He added that the journey included the Ohio River and his hometown of Boston.
McNichol’s knowledge of highway development and construction continues to keep him busy. Current projects include work with National Geographic and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) about Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project, best known as the Big Dig. In addition, McNichol recently returned from the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Kansas, where he conducted research for a new book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Federal Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.
In addition, Barnes & Noble plans to reprint his book The Roads That Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System. The best-selling author stopped by his alma mater in 2004 during “The Great American Road Trip,” a 12,000-mile cross-country promotional tour for the book.
McNichol also authored The Big Dig and The Big Dig at Night, which chronicle Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel project. The American Society of Civil Engineers, Boston Chapter, named him 2003 Journalist of the Year for his work as the deputy director of public affairs and spokesperson for the massive project. In 1991, McNichol was appointed by the White House to serve as a Presidential Appointee to the department of transportation.
|Related Links: The History Channel|
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