4
PRINCIPLES FOR ACTION ON INFRASTRUCTURE

In their visits to Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Boston, committee members observed local conditions and talked to private citizens and to representatives of the business communities and governments, who were grappling with issues of infrastructure development and management. Each community is unique, as the committee's observations show well, and uniqueness is reflected in a community's infrastructure. Location determines the characteristics of geology and soil, hydrology, topography, vegetation, and climate with which the infrastructures must contend. The economic and social makeup of the community shapes the demand for the infrastructure's services, in terms of prices willingly paid as well as types and levels of services desired, and the performance levels that are judged to be minimally acceptable. The history of the community establishes patterns of physical development, institutional and political relationships, and attitudes that influence what can be practically achieved in the infrastructure's development and management.

Perhaps the most important lesson the committee observed is that the local community must be responsible for determining its own priorities. Communities will be most successful in building and maintaining their infrastructure if they can devise mechanisms enabling these priorities to be determined with minimal waste of time, money, and human effort. These mechanisms have something to do with effective application and management of the tech-



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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure 4 PRINCIPLES FOR ACTION ON INFRASTRUCTURE In their visits to Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Boston, committee members observed local conditions and talked to private citizens and to representatives of the business communities and governments, who were grappling with issues of infrastructure development and management. Each community is unique, as the committee's observations show well, and uniqueness is reflected in a community's infrastructure. Location determines the characteristics of geology and soil, hydrology, topography, vegetation, and climate with which the infrastructures must contend. The economic and social makeup of the community shapes the demand for the infrastructure's services, in terms of prices willingly paid as well as types and levels of services desired, and the performance levels that are judged to be minimally acceptable. The history of the community establishes patterns of physical development, institutional and political relationships, and attitudes that influence what can be practically achieved in the infrastructure's development and management. Perhaps the most important lesson the committee observed is that the local community must be responsible for determining its own priorities. Communities will be most successful in building and maintaining their infrastructure if they can devise mechanisms enabling these priorities to be determined with minimal waste of time, money, and human effort. These mechanisms have something to do with effective application and management of the tech-

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure nology of infrastructure within the context of the social, political, and economic forces of the community that this infrastructure serves. THREE KEY PRINCIPLES FOR ACTION From its experience, the committee extracted three broad principles for dealing with local infrastructure issues, principles that can lead toward "win-win" situations in which parties with potentially opposing interests seek a way to resolve a conflict such that all parties gain. These principles are complex and multifaceted, but can be simply stated: geography matters; the paradigm is broadening; value the "public" in public works. Finding solutions to a community's infrastructure problems that are unambiguously win-win may be impossible, but experience suggests that the right strategy—one tailored to the specific character of the community—can make the difference. Specific examples observed by the committee in Boston, Cincinnati, and Phoenix support and demonstrate these principles, but such cases can be found in other areas as well. At their core, these principles represent a return to what works: good planning, good management, and good community relations. Within the context of practices of the past several decades, applying these principles means a shift toward a broader view and broader participation in the infrastructure system planning, development, and management. Principle 1: Geography Matters The specific physical, social, economic, and environmental characteristics of a region should be the primary factors shaping that region's infrastructure investment and management. National policy must deal effectively with local concerns, allowing solutions to be tailored to the natural environment, social patterns, and locally assessed needs and aspirations of the region.

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure Current infrastructure technology enables us to move water uphill, cut steeper slopes on the land than would be found in nature, and take other actions in opposition to natural forms and forces. As experience makes increasingly clear, such actions, although possible, are not necessarily good. Cincinnati's need for retaining walls and the flooding and drainage problems plaguing some neighborhoods are the results of development with limited regard for natural drainage and slope conditions. Phoenix's dependence on distant water sources is a result of growth allowed to exceed locally available supplies.16 Such observations are a reminder that infrastructure should be designed and managed to respect the natural features (e.g., drainage, geology) and social structure of the community and to be compatible with these features.17 The history of Boston's transit extensions shows that there should be respect for the social and cultural character of a region, as well as compatibility. These natural, social, and cultural features are connected in complex ways that should shape the region's infrastructure. Good decision making should be based on good information, but the committee's experience demonstrates that frequently the data needed to support thorough analysis of infrastructure problems and alternative solutions are not available. Many cities, especially older ones like Boston, do not know the location or condition of many of their infrastructure facilities. Many cities have only limited information on subsurface conditions, natural drainage, and 16   Similar statements might be made about transportation corridors passing through established communities, the source of Boston's Southeast Corridor experience. Over the past decades, federal programs that made funds available for such investments have had major impact in shaping metropolitan development but have often neglected the diverse social, economic, and physical character of local geography. 17   In the summer of 1993, as one reviewer of the committee's work pointed out, severe flooding of cities and towns in the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys illustrated graphically the importance of this respect.

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure other factors with which they must contend when developing facility plans or management policies. To effect a true respect for geography in all its aspects, local authorities must collect and maintain good data to support effective decision making and good documentation of the bases and consequences of decisions. Increasingly powerful and lower-cost computer-based geographic information systems (GISs) will facilitate data management and documentation.18 Principle 2: The Paradigm Is Broadening The future goal of infrastructure management must be to change the paradigm of independent management of the many elements of infrastructure and in its place incorporate effective recognition of infrastructure as a multimodal and multipurpose system—a stream of services—as well as an armature of community development. Infrastructure facilities require land and capital, two resources invariably in shorter supply as cities or regions mature and grow. Such limited resources should be used as efficiently as possible, considering all elements of the system together. Phoenix's solid waste transfer facility demonstrates how infrastructure facility planning, design, and management can seek to deliver multiple services. Boston's transportation planning shows how communities can be flexible in allocating resources within the whole system to suit local conditions, always examining 18   Development of metropolitan GISs is hampered by missing data and by diversity in the level of detail, age, format, and reliability of data that are available. In addition, researchers and competing vendors have struggled to define common formats for data management. However, many areas are working to consolidate their data resources. The committee did not directly review such work, but rather drew on the knowledge of its members. For further discussion, see National Research Council (NRC, 1993).

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure multiple solutions for each problem and taking a long term perspective in decision making that extends beyond the traditional 15-to 30-year design service life or bond financing horizon. Increasing the investment in infrastructure, although often necessary and appropriate, is not sufficient by itself to solve a region's or the nation's problems. Serious questions must be faced about the technological range, investment scale, and financial costs of alternatives for construction and reconstruction, the role of resource conservation as a management and investment strategy, the frequently neglected long-term costs of ownership of facilities, and the impact of changing regional and global economies on the region's and nation's ability or willingness to pay for infrastructure's services. Maintenance is a key case in point. Cincinnati's ''crisis'' stemmed from neglect of maintenance. As Cincinnati's Infrastructure Commission found, new systems for monitoring and maintaining infrastructure condition and performance at appropriate levels are needed, systems that are less susceptible to shifting political forces. Boston's current investment boom may lead to maintenance cost crises in the future. To the extent that national policies support infrastructure, these policies should be shifted from a narrow focus on transportation, water resources, or other single elements of the infrastructure system. National infrastructure policies and programs should be structured to foster a new paradigm that enables appropriate trade-offs among infrastructure modes and brings together the interests of diverse regions within a context of equity among cities and regions. Examination of a range of alternatives to any proposed infrastructure development, always good practice and required in some cases when federal funding is involved, should be done from a multimodal and services-based perspective. Overall, a shift in outlook is needed from "catch-up" to forward-looking development. Achieving this shift will require more effective consideration of the life-cycle consequences of infrastructure decisions, and the possible shifting of technologies and of economic and social priorities that can warrant demand

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure management and decommissioning, as well as service expansion and the development of new infrastructures. This new paradigm must be presented and refined through the education of infrastructure professionals and policy makers. Infrastructure professionals need a broader and more integrative educational experience that will enable them to communicate effectively with the public and policy makers, as well as manage the infrastructure system. Phoenix's experience demonstrates why policy makers should give greater recognition to the enabling value of infrastructure, by promoting and rewarding innovation in infrastructure technology and management. This educational experience should aim also to make these professionals more responsive to the very real mismatch that typically occurs in infrastructure development and use among those who receive benefits from the system's services, those who pay most directly for those services, and those who suffer losses. The history of Boston's Southwest Corridor development, as told to the committee during its visit, highlights the social and economic factors this mismatch often entails. Research and development contribute to our understanding of the services that infrastructure can provide and the options for providing these services more effectively, and may lead to innovation if results are transferred into practice. Local demonstrations are a valuable form of research and development that should be used to verify and disseminate new technology. Principle 3: Value The "Public" In Public Works Infrastructure encompasses more than public works, but nevertheless is intended essentially to serve the public. However, for a number of reasons outlined in earlier chapters and observable in Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Boston, the development and management of infrastructure are the realm of politicians and professionals, civil engineers, urban planners, and specialists in related law and finance. Although these professionals have served the nation well in providing the United States with what is arguably

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure the world's best infrastructure, the committee's observations in this study as well as committee members' broader experience illustrate that improvements can be made by introducing new ways of thinking about the problems of infrastructure. These improvements are visible in the civic pride in Cincinnati's renovation, the neighborhood care maintained in Boston's Southwest Corridor, and the public's ultimate satisfaction with Phoenix's Squaw Peak Parkway. Other professions and the community at large—urban designers, artists, school teachers, and children—can make solid contributions by asking questions that spark rethinking of conventional solutions to problems and by providing input to infrastructure development and management. Ways should be sought to involve new people and diverse groups whose interests have previously been underrepresented in these processes. Specific efforts must be made also to involve the broader public in infrastructure decision making. These efforts, increasingly required by statute19, are as likely as not to be viewed by responsible officials as burdensome or irrelevant. The public antagonism, opposition, and consequent project delays that this separation of the public from public works generates are visible in the cases the committee reviewed. Visible as well is the value of early and steady involvement of the public in infrastructure decision making. This involvement can and should occur at various levels—from the personal and intimate participation of individuals in construction of the Thomas Road Overpass in Phoenix, to the many neighborhood meetings held in Cincinnati to discuss priorities and needs, to the large-scale public replanning of Boston's highway system. Effective public involvement and broad intersectoral and interdisciplinary partnerships in infrastructure development and management are needed to apply the broader paradigm of flexible delivery of multiple services. As Cincinnati's experience 19   The National Environmental Policy Act, which became federal law in 1969, was an early and major force for full disclosure of government plans for infrastructure development.

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure Figure 4-A In Boston's South End neighborhood, matching the design of the subway transit's ventilation tower to the style of adjacent residences converted a potential eyesore and source of community resentment to an attractive and accepted addition to the urban landscape.

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure showed, inclusion by the community of broad representation of users and neighbors of infrastructure within these partnerships strengthens decision making. Such involvement can help to resolve the conflicts and inequities associated with infrastructure's development and operations. The importance of effective leadership in dealing with issues of infrastructure is a direct corollary of broad public involvement and introduction of new ways of thinking into the decision making process. Disagreements and disputes will inevitably arise, often over questions which there are only opinions but no correct answers, and leadership will be needed to reach resolution. Although this leadership is often seemingly embodied in a single individual such as Cincinnati's John Smale or Massachusetts' governor William F. Weld, invariably these individuals are supported by many others who exercise leadership in their communities and on teams of professionals. Efforts to enable and even encourage this leadership to develop within all parts of the community can help to ensure that broad participation and new ideas are effective. All three cities visited by the committee showed that to build leadership and effectiveness, the people responsible for approving infrastructure development (i.e., voters) need to be better informed to judge matters of infrastructure technology and its impact on the economy, the environment, and the general quality of life. More than two decades of public discussion in Boston produced a population singularly well prepared to discuss infrastructure, and the educational components of Phoenix's 27th Avenue waste management facility seem likely to produce similar benefits over the longer term. Such an educated public is a source of leadership and new ideas, and cannot help but enhance the community's ability to manage and develop its infrastructure more effectively. Public education is an essential element of future infrastructure management. Sometimes formal mechanisms are needed to bring the knowledge of an educated public and broader range of professionals to bear on specific problems. One such mechanism is periodic review of infrastructure management and planning by a knowledge-

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure able group of people who are not otherwise involved in the decision making process. Such a group, sometimes termed a "jury" in architectural design practice or "peer reviewers" in many professional circles, contributes by asking questions and in effect testing the assumptions and conclusions of the decisionmakers. In this role, it does not so much pass judgment as test the validity and robustness of ongoing programs. The Cincinnati business community's reviews of municipal government and the infrastructure program are outstanding examples of this strategy at work. Infrastructure professionals should include community peer review of plans and progress as a regular part of major infrastructure decision making. Such peer review can build the new coalitions of diverse interest groups that the broader paradigm will bring. TOWARD NATIONAL POLICY AND BEYOND A national perspective can bring together the interests of diverse regions. Only at the national level are there means for maintaining equity among cities and regions and for fostering the structures in local government to support the new management paradigm of infrastructure as a system of services. National infrastructure policy can address effectively—in a way that is not possible at local levels alone—the balance of resources applied among infrastructure modes and between infrastructure and other issues of national interest (e.g., national security, industrial competitiveness, medical care, and AIDS research). However, there is presently no delineated statement of national policy toward infrastructure, but rather a complex and often conflicting collection of laws, regulations, standards, and programs that address separately the various modes and their impacts. National Strategic interests arise from infrastructure's pervasive influence on our economic productivity, our environment, and ultimately our quality of life. In its 1990 report on state and local public works financing and management, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) discussed the gap between these national and local concerns, which is nowhere more evident than in the

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure responsibilities and regulations for environmental protection and remediation. OTA (1990) termed environmental problems an excruciating modern dilemma: the need for better stewardship of our air, water, and land resources has become critical due to many of the very practices that have helped our Nation grow and flourish. Land use and transportation patterns that fostered economic development and personal mobility in the past now embody environmental issues that will require changes beyond our current ability to conceive in industry operations and personal living and travel habits. State and local officials in major urban and high-growth areas understand that congested highways and airports, substandard air quality, and inadequate solid waste and wastewater facilities make them less attractive to business. However, the changes needed to resolve the issues are so difficult and far reaching that they cannot be understood, developed, or implemented quickly, easily, or inexpensively. National policy must deal effectively with the essentially local concerns of infrastructure, concerns that are closely tied to the specific characteristics of a region and intimately related to the region's environmental conditions. In their efforts to establish national standards and procedures, some federal infrastructure programs in the past have not dealt well with this need for local focus. For example, the interstate highway program generated substantial resistance in many cities as the urban links of the system approached design and construction. Phoenix and Boston revealed the vestiges of such resistance. There is evidence that enforcement of uniform national pollution standards may impose selectively very high infrastructure costs on some regions where other ways might be found to accomplish environmental goals. Boston may again provide a case study. In all three cities, the evidence is seen of how failures to establish effective mechanisms for bringing the full costs of public goods such as clean air and

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure water into local decision making may lead to suboptimal investment and distortion of the infrastructure system. The new Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA, popularly referred to as "ice tea") may be an exemplar of federal law that gives more effective recognition to local concerns. This 1991 legislation includes broad provisions for intermodal coordination and community planning that some professionals feel are likely to change in basic ways in which U.S. urban transportation works. Nevertheless, ISTEA is still a transportation act and has little, if any, consequence for water supply, sewerage, telecommunications, and other elements of infrastructure. The impact of national policies and programs across all infrastructure modes should be considered when new legislation is prepared and in reviewing what already exists. There is ample experience to demonstrate that funding or restricting water supply influences the perceived need for transportation, for example, and vice versa. If communities are to take an integrated, multimodal view in developing and managing their infrastructure, federal programs must be supportive. A particularly important form of support is the federal funding of infrastructure research, development, and demonstration activities. Such agencies as the National Science Foundation, Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Environmental Protection Agency can and should foster cross-cutting research to improve local areas' capabilities for life-cycle management, condition monitoring and performance assessment, and information and system management. Such research can contribute to our understanding of infrastructure as a multimodel system and of the sources that system can provide. The research should include federally sponsored local demonstration projects, which experience has shown to be a valuable means for developing and disseminating innovation. The absence of a clearly defined center of federal responsibility for infrastructure policy and programs makes coordination and concerted effort more difficult. Some observers suggest that a single agency with sweeping responsibilities is needed to ensure that federal investments are made efficiently and effectively. How

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In Our Own Backyard: Principles for Effective Improvement of the Nation's Infrastructure ever, the committee does not recommend such strong centralization. Apart from the relatively brief existence of the Public Works Administration and other federal agencies created in response to the challenges of the Great Depression and two World Wars, no serious effort has been made to centralize responsibilities across infrastructure programs at national levels, and such an effort would conflict with long-standing institutional relationships. Resolving such conflict would be slow and difficult, and substantial centralization of executive authority might further limit communities' abilities to shape their infrastructure to meet unique needs. Nevertheless, dealing effectively with the nation's infrastructure problems will require vision and leadership at all levels. Adequate infrastructure is a crucial element of the national enabling environment needed for increasing productivity and improving quality of life. Effective national policy can support that enabling environment by providing the framework for alleviating many of the problems our infrastructure faces. Yet infrastructure is essentially local, and local differences will always require specific variations in facilities, management systems, and funding patterns. A supportive national policy environment must facilitate strategies for addressing issues of infrastructure to be applied locally—to paraphrase the often used phrase of resistance to infrastructure—in our own backyards. REFERENCES NRC (National Research Council). 1993. Toward a Coordinate Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation. Mapping Science Committee. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. OTA (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment). 1990. Rebuilding the Foundations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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