Urban Institute launches infrastructure initiative

Posted on January 30, 2012

A multi-dimensional research initiative spanning America's fragile infrastructure systems will debut at the Urban Institute with transportation planning expert Sandra Rosenbloom as its director.

The Institute's Infrastructure Initiative is designed to inform the public and government officials about the high-stakes choices in developing, operating, maintaining and financing transportation networks, water and sewer systems, wireless and broadband communications, and the electrical grid. It will examine the fiscal, social, and environmental costs and benefits of policy tradeoffs at the national, state and local levels.

"The tough decisions ahead about what is largely invisible or routinely ignored will ripple through the economy and the lives of families and business owners," said Margery Austin Turner, the Urban Institute's vice president for research. "The consequences for economic growth and productivity, job opportunities, cost burdens, equity, environmental quality, and national security will be profound and long-lasting."

As the Infrastructure Initiative ramps up, it expects to:

  • Compare the economic payoffs from alternative infrastructure investments, differentiating pork from smart spending.
  • Document who pays and who benefits.
  • Develop tools for performance measurement and management.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of user fees, variable pricing and other demand management schemes.
  • Provide practical advice on institutional and technological innovations in infrastructure financing and operations.
  • Analyze the relative risks and rewards of different public-private partnership models.


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