archiving, and access to be used by all facility owners and operators to aid decision making.


a. Explore within the federal government the most appropriate technical and administrative approaches to facilitate coordinated management of the underground as part of a total urban system. Recognize and coordinate with ongoing research in this area, for example, that conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) Transportation Research Board related to road projects.

b. Conduct a technology scan of how countries and cities around the world collect, manage, make available, and use three-dimensional geological and buried structure information.

Urban infrastructure generally, and underground infrastructure more specifically, is owned, constructed, operated, and maintained by many different privateand public-sector organizations to serve an even larger number of stakeholders. These different groups may each have their own unique missions, be driven by different goals, and have different financial vehicles, all of which may be divergent. Contractors hired to construct or operate underground infrastructure may not have long-term commitment to the infrastructure or the region. There may be little opportunity for owners and operators to understand the interdependencies between their respective infrastructure systems.

Consideration of the spatial and functional interdependencies of surface and underground infrastructure during all phases of infrastructure life cycle is vital to urban sustainability. However, cultural and political conventions in the United States tend to recognize, systematically plan, and organize only the real estate and air rights on or above the surface, effectively ignoring the valuable and nonrenewable real estate beneath our feet (with the exception of resource extraction). Further, since the 1980s, the United States has lacked a coordinated multi-agency federal thrust to keep U.S. research and technology at the forefront in underground development. Infrastructure development, in general, and underground infrastructure development, in particular, suffer in the United States from being organized by sectors and without any mission agency or other organization within the federal establishment dedicated to coordination across sectors. This coordination could lead to a better management of research investments and reduced risk for federal investments (particularly of large infrastructure projects), and could also be coordinated with investments by states and municipalities. Integrated, holistic, and three-dimensional planning is necessary.

All levels of government in many regions of the country are facing economic difficulties that may be the economic norm for years to come. The intergovernmental financial assistance system that has made many underground systems possible may not be able to invest in underground infrastructure as has been done

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement