A year ago right around now, I had my first panic attack ever. I was preparing to get into a 1949 Hudson with Dan McNichol, the author of “The Roads That Built America,” and travel across the country from Washington, D.C. through the Rockies, St. Louis, Kansas, Denver, Reno, and up through the Sierra Nevadas ultimately to San Francisco. We would stop at construction project sites along the way, as well as public works department garages. We would highlight the state of America’s infrastructure by being in a car that might break down—like America’s infrastructure—at any given moment.
I managed to survive the panic attack, get into the car, and survive the resulting 3 weeks. Along with the blogs, slideshows and stories that appeared throughout the rest of 2015, I wrote a summary at year’s end. The experience overall was difficult, wearying, stressful, and utterly awesome. We met truckers, everyday Joes, rabbis who teach at Christian universities, roughneck construction crews, genius mechanics and of course the engineers, designers and owners with public agencies and private firms who do their best to upgrade, repair and expand our roads, bridges, rail, dams and airports.
We only visited one actual airport construction site, in Salt Lake City, where I met some of the same top-notch folks who were involved with Atlanta’s fifth runway projects over a decade before. I didn’t write much about that project at the time, because there was just so very much stuff to process, and the $1-billion expansion was only just starting to take off.
This year, I hope to rectify that omission and revisit SLC, along with other major airport construction sites in what will be an aviation-centric sequel to last’s year Low & Slow trip, except that I'll be flying solo most of the time. I might have to watch "Up In The Air" again.
That every major airport goes through an endless cycle of repair, rinse and repeat—once one major capital plan is complete, other aspects of the airport need refurbishing. We also want to know what else is on the minds of airport people—the latest and greatest in technology and construction tools; the next step in sustainability and security; what airplane fleet trends will inform future designs. What’s going on with smaller and non-hub airports? Privatization? Non-aeronautical revenue?
I’ve applied for my TSA pre-check and thinking about buying a new carry-on bag. Now I just need an itinerary. All suggestions are welcome.