Top Cities

Five Principles for Good Infrastructure – News

Despite policy differences, there are some major “principles that can help us end up with good infrastructure,” writes Alex Marshall on In a nutshell, he says, “we take too long to build infrastructure that costs too much, is clunkily designed, is tied too closely to private profit and does not play well with other systems.” Yet “good infrastructure is good for cities, states and their citizens; bad infrastructure is bad for them.” Marshall lays out five principles for good infrastructure, which come down to the importance of five key factors:

  • Cost: “we pay several times more than other advanced nations to build transit infrastructure.”
  • Time: projects that should take years take decades due to regulatory holdups and other delays.
  • Connections: seamless networks are the key to creating truly useful, effective transit systems.
  • Design: better design can lead to faster, cheaper construction, yet “we lag behind other countries” in the design of basic infrastructure.
  • Ownership: oversight is important, particularly when it comes to major infrastructure. “Even the best-designed and swiftly built infrastructure will turn bad if we give one or two private companies total control over them.”

Newly appointed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “has said that he will push a ‘fix-it first’ strategy, which is a good principle, even if it is not popular with the private development community that profits from new construction.” Marshall argues that, along with basic fixes, infrastructure investment has to plan for the long term.

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