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The Great Debate: Which Infrastructure System Most Needs Repair?

The New York Times created a "Room for Debate" feature offering four points of view on the subject of infrastructure repair.
December 3, 2015, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Pierre-Henry Muller

The premise for the "Room for Debate" feature: the systems for infrastructure as varied as electricity, running water, high-speed Internet service, roads, and bridges are overburdened. The questions posed to each of the participants: "Which requires most urgent care: roads, bridges, power grids or something else altogether? And what’s the best way to finance it?"

Included in the debate are these familiar voices:

  • Henry Petroski, author of The Road Taken
  • Robert Puentes, The Brookings Institution
  • Don Fullerton, University of Illinois
  • Nicol Turner-Lee, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council
  • Richard Lordan, Electric Power Research Institute

As should be apparent from the list, some of the participants argue from specific industry perspectives, while some of the participants chose a specific infrastructure need to focus on as the most pressing while suggesting policy measures to address the challenge.

Robert Puentes, for instance, identifies the country's water infrastructure, which is threatened by drought and flooding risks in different parts of the country, as well as ongoing need to separate wastewater and stormwater systems. Henry Petroski, as another example, suggests that financing responsibilities for roads and bridges should be shifted to the state level.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 in The New York Times
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