PROJECTUsing Dollars with Sense: Ideas for Better Infrastructure Choices

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With infrastructure policy set for the spotlight in 2018, the Urban Institute is hosting this series to look beyond funding and into the way we choose which infrastructure projects are built and which are not.

On this page, you will find short essays about what criteria policymakers should keep in mind to make effective choices and what levers they can use to do so. Visiting fellow Shoshana Lew argues for one such tool in her new brief, calling attention to asset management plans.

Our authors hold various views and roles in our infrastructure system, and while they may not all agree, we hope their collective output will be a resource for infrastructure leaders to draw on as they make decisions that will reverberate in places and people’s lives for decades.

We look forward to a thought-provoking and useful discussion.

To track the conversation, you can check this page each week. You can also follow @UrbanInstitute on Twitter.

Essays
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Sarah Rosen Wartell
Rapid changes to the environment, innovative technology, and shifting demographics remind us that even up-to-date infrastructure may not be sufficient to meet the challenges of the future.
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Tracy Gordon, Shoshana Lew, and Matt Rogers
“Our choices about infrastructure investments will have lasting impact. It’s crucial that we get them right.”
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Anthony Foxx
“Managing our assets should be about more than replacing pavement and fortifying bridges. As we plan, prioritize, and build, we must be mindful of the communities that our investments affect and the people they serve."
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Kristina Swallow and Greg DiLoreto
“Here are seven things the federal government should do to create and execute a major infrastructure package, ensure our infrastructure can meet growing communities’ needs, and drive our economy forward as it has in the past.”
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Phillip A. Washington
"I believe the federal government can make positive strides in adopting criteria for any new infrastructure plan that would blend key factors to ensure two priorities. First, it would ensure a maximum return on investment for federal taxpayers. Second, it would deliver more mobility for more Amer...
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Monique Rollins
"We should give policymakers and project sponsors access to the data they need to make thoughtful project selection decisions and bring down friction costs for investors looking at US infrastructure projects."
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Jodie Misiak and John Porcari
"Asset management and funding decisionmaking must also include criteria regarding the multimodal nature of transportation systems, and the various financial and contractual arrangements that might be necessary to ensure that asset management plans are funded and implemented for the full asset lif...
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Angela Glover Blackwell and Anita Cozart
"Investments should create conditions that allow everyone to contribute and succeed, particularly those who have been blocked from opportunity by racial inequities in infrastructure policy and practice."
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Paul Brubaker
Paul Brubaker: Rethinking Transportation Infrastructure Investment for the 21st Century
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Bob Perciasepe
"Resilience does not require any new government programs or major changes in how federal investment works. We already have most of the tools in place, but we need to ensure they are used thoughtfully and consistently."
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Emil Frankel and Janet Kavinoky
“It is essential that, whatever the level of new funding, available resources should be invested in the projects and programs that will bring the greatest economic, social, and environmental benefits.”
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Joseph C. Szabo
"Regions are more apt to succeed when they engage all residents and provide opportunities to participate in and contribute to the regional economy. Local and regional policies and planning decisions influence whether and how residents are connected to the economy."
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Marcia Hale
"The US has led the way in developing innovative infrastructure projects that boosted our productivity and made us the world’s strongest economy. We need to replicate that vision and continue to take bold steps"
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Robert Puentes
"To keep infrastructure from spasming back and forth in our national discourse, we need a new narrative. Without a comprehensive plan for upgrading, expanding, modernizing, integrating, and financing infrastructure, we will continue to go nowhere."
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John Robert Smith
"When made wisely, infrastructure investments bring prosperity to all residents, families, and workers and produce the rising tide that lifts all boats in their communities."
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center