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Letting Cities and Regions Lead Infrastructure Investment
The Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research worked with former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros to publish a new report charting a path for "bottom-up" infrastructure investment for post-pandemic recovery.
The report surveys infrastructure priorities in 100 metropolitan areas and 134 cities across the country to 1,800 high-priority infrastructure projects (shown in an interactive map). Of that total, transportation, public facilities, water and wastewater, energy projects and communications projects appear most frequently on the list.
To meet the nation's infrastructure challenges (the result of decades of neglect preceding the pandemic), the report suggests a focus on three areas: post-pandemic infrastructure, climate resilience, and urban-rural connections.
An introductory article summarizes the "bottom-up" approach suggested in the report:
Too often U.S. infrastructure policy has taken a top-down approach, with the federal government dictating what will be built, based on inside-the-Beltway lobbying. But, in reality, the American economy is a network of regional and metropolitan economies. Cities and metropolitan areas are the true engines of American prosperity, and generate most of the economic output and most of the jobs. And they are economically connected to small towns and rural areas when they are part of the same mega-region. To meet the challenges listed above, the next American infrastructure strategy must include a market-based, bottom-up component that is responsive to the needs on the ground in cities, metros and regions.
The report suggests the local and regional leaders consult on the details of this infrastructure plan, so it's not suggesting a grassroots or community-led process sometimes connoted by the term "bottom-up."