Jonathan English Calls for Infrastructure Plans
In Bloomberg CityLab, Fellow Jonathan English has written “How U.S. Infrastructure Plans Shrank in Ambition.” In the context of President Biden’s $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, he discusses the history of U.S. infrastructure plans, how they have changed over time, and the planning vision we need for the future, concluding:
The U.S. is alone among large countries in its failure to build substantial high-speed rail networks in its densest corridors, leaving crowded airports and highways the only viable alternative. Some metropolitan areas are adding hundreds of thousands of residents every decade, all of whom will be moving on transportation infrastructure built decades ago. Since building new urban highways is just about impossible, we need large-scale transit systems that can swiftly and efficiently move hundreds of thousands of riders a day. We need a national, reliable network of electric vehicle charging stations, environmental infrastructure to adapt to climate change, and electric grids that can transmit large amounts of renewable energy from areas of surplus generation, like the Great Plains, to areas of high demand like the Northeast and Midwest.
All of these require the kind of large-scale investment and comprehensive planning that has faded away. We must hope that this infrastructure investment is not a one-off, and that future plans successfully balance the two scales—meeting very real large-scale regional and national needs, without sacrificing the communities where people make their home.