A multidimensional research initiative spanning America's fragile infrastructure systems debuts today at the Urban Institute with transportation planning expert Sandra Rosenbloom as its director.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 30, 2012 -- A multidimensional research initiative spanning America's fragile infrastructure systems debuts today 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 longlasting."
Rosenbloom chairs the executive committee of the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board. She has been a professor of planning at the University of Arizona since 1990 and directed its Drachman Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies from 1990 to 2004. She was the David Bruton Jr. Centennial Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin from 1983 to 1990.
"The Urban Institute's Infrastructure Initiative will stand apart from the body of system-specific technical expertise because it will focus on bigger-picture, cross-cutting analyses that policymakers and citizens need for sound decisionmaking," said Rosenbloom, who will also be a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.
Rosenbloom, who holds a doctorate in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles, has focused her research on urban service delivery and capital financing, social inclusion, and the travel behavior and needs of mothers, older people, and individuals with disabilities.
The Infrastructure Initiative will start as a program of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, headed by Rolf Pendall.
"The Institute already has deep expertise in several intersecting domains, particularly urban development, public service delivery, jobs, taxes, and budgeting," said Pendall. "This means we can go well beyond a single infrastructure project's technical or engineering issues to answering systemic questions about cost, equity, economic and environmental impact, and risks."
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; and
- analyze the relative risks and rewards of different public-private partnership models.
The Urban Institute (www.urban.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation. It provides information, analyses, and perspectives to public and private decisionmakers to help them address these problems and strives to deepen citizens' understanding of the issues and tradeoffs that policymakers face.