Government / Politics
Bank, Commission, Capital Budget or Business as Usual?
There's a growing consensus the U.S. needs to invest more in our infrastructure, especially our transportation infrastructure. Too many roads and bridges are in poor repair, and congestion is slowing the economy of many cities. High gas prices has only added to intense interest nationwide for new and enhanced public transportation. With the expiration of the SAFETEA-LU legislation, next year Congress has the opportunity to revise the policies guiding investment in this critical infrastructure.
Unfortunately, after the interstate highway system, the federal role in transportation infrastructure is mostly known for its excessive pork barrel spending (bridges to nowhere) and limited funds and Byzantine policies restricting mass transit investment.
How should we evaluate the various proposals to reform federal policy? The Urban Land Institute (where I am working this summer) proposed an 8-point "action agenda" for infrastructure in their second-annual infrastructure report. The agenda is a statement of principles that should guide investments. It includes: build a vision for the community, invest strategically in coordination with land use, fix and maintain first, reduce driving, couple land use decisions with water availability, break down government "silos," cut pork barrel spending and support smart growth, keep score and keep governments accountable.
Taking those principles as advice, let's take a look at what has been proposed.