As Chief Engineer of the Alabama State Highway Department’s Bureau of Materials and Tests, James L. Land spearheaded the development of design criteria and construction procedures for that state’s low-cost asphalt road program. This program, which made maximum use of local materials, was considered a model throughout the world during the 1930’s.
Under his leadership, the Bureau achieved a very high level of competence. Its Soils and Bituminous Laboratories were considered among the best in the world.
Mr. Land joined the Alabama State Highway Department in 1916. His work there, however, was interrupted by both World Wars. He served in the U.S. Army in France in 1918 and 1919 and with the Office of the Chief of Engineers from 1941 to 1943.
While with the Corps of Engineers he helped develop a design manual for the construction of military airfields. The adoption of the manual marked the acceptance by the Corps of the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test. Mr. Land was also instrumental in the selection of asphalt pavements for airfields that could be improved at a later date through stage-construction techniques.
After his World War II tour of duty, Mr. Land returned to his position in Alabama as Chief Engineer, Bureau of Materials and Tests, remaining as such until he retired in 1956. From 1943 to 1962, he was also a consultant to the Chief of Engineers, Military Branch on Airport Construction and Pavement Design.
He wrote and presented many papers for various technical organizations. He also served on many, industry related working committees.
Mr. Land was a native of Alabama, born in Lee County in 1886. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1910 with a Bachelor of Science Degree.