Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sorry about the lack of DC Metro--you can blame my family

Recently, my dad brought to my attention a familial fun fact: turns out we're related to an agent of change in American culture and infrastructure.  

Have I introduced you to my grandpa's cousin, Francis C. Turner?

he even looks like my dad. The nose/eyes/ears run strong in the Turners.

Career Highlights:
  • 1943: he headed up construction of  the Alaska Highway, a 1,523-mile gravel road between Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Fairbanks, Alaska, to support military forces in Alaska during World War II. 
  • 1946: he went to the Philippines, where he helped restore bridges and roads damaged in the war. In 1950, he became an assistant to the bureau commissioner, Thomas MacDonald, who made him coordinator for the Inter-American Highway. 
  • In 1954, he was personally appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be executive secretary to the President's Advisory Committee on a National Highway Program. 
  • 1957 to 1967: served as Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer for Public Roads
  • 1967: the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment as Director of Public Roads. 
  • 1969, the U.S. Senate confirmed him as the Federal Highway Administrator. He served in this position until his retirement on June 30, 1972. 
  • 1969: named World Highway Man of the Year by the International Road Federation 
  • 1994: named one of 10 relatively unknown people who changed the world in the previous 40 years by American Heritage magazine.
  • 1999: became the first recipient of the Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation

Francis Turner was essentially the country's badass authority on highway design, finance, and construction, and even though Dwight Eisenhower gets all the credit, he was the baby daddy of the modern day American Interstate System, aka I-95, I-395, et al. 

So yeah, pretty illustrious. 

Francis Turner, looking remarkably like my dad, speaking at the building named for him


My cousin 4th removed also was a big opponent of the DC metro system. He had a hard-on for highways, and busted his balls in committees and working with different agencies to make sure they remained toll-free and HOV-friendly. Even though he was an engineer, he was possibly the one Turner male who didn't love trains. But, while Bigger cities were developing efficient, massive subway systems, Francis Turner remained insistent that DC be based on a highway system. He believed our interstate systems would be able to handle it. He believed that a bus could be driven anywhere, whereas a train was limited to just tracks. He's often criticized as being a man of great--albeit--limited vision.

fun to note: Nixon is quote here calling the DC metro "bullshit!"

So, when you're sitting in your mid-morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, mid-evening, late evening commute, wishing you could just take a subway; or when you're walking block after block in DC, or spending $40 on parking, wishing that you could have just taken a train, you can sneer and shake your fist at my family tree. (And at President Nixon.)

Proof that great mathematics and engineering genes run in my family. Also, the "nope, that doesn't sound like my problem" gene. 

You can clearly see which genetic trait was passed on to me. 

Also, is it me, or is "World Highway Man of the Year" a pretty badass award? Sheeeit.


Us. said...

Hey, that's pretty cool!

But I'm still related to some dude from REO Speedwagon. So, there's that.

Kim said...

Lovely!! The relatives in OK will love this!!! I want to go to the Turner building too!!!

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