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INTRODUCTION

Millions of Americans arise each morning expecting that they will be able to drink clean water from their bathroom taps, use electric power to read their newspapers or receive telecast news, and travel from their homes by transit or road to jobs and schools. As the day progresses, millions will use telephones, travel long distances by air and rail, and dispose of massive amounts of waste, all in the course of their daily activities.

Most of the time and in most places, the nation's roads, water supplies, waste disposal, and other infrastructure serve efficiently and reliably the wide range of economic and social activities comprising our daily lives. So effective is this technological system that few people especially note it. But sometimes a ruptured water main floods streets, transit tunnels, and downtown businesses, or street repairs break communications lines needed for airport operations, and we are reminded in most unfavorable terms of infrastructure's significance.1

The United States is served by what is arguably the most extensive infrastructure in history. The product of centuries of technological development and decades of construction, maintenance, and management, this system of roads and sewers, pipelines, and power plants is a valuable asset that contributes substantially to the quality of our lives.

This asset2 has developed, for the most part, as separate and distinct generating plants, highways, waste repositories, and other facilities built and operated by a myriad of government agencies, independent authorities, and private corporations. Decisions made in earlier times—when populations were smaller, land was less intensively used, and we under-



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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research 1 INTRODUCTION Millions of Americans arise each morning expecting that they will be able to drink clean water from their bathroom taps, use electric power to read their newspapers or receive telecast news, and travel from their homes by transit or road to jobs and schools. As the day progresses, millions will use telephones, travel long distances by air and rail, and dispose of massive amounts of waste, all in the course of their daily activities. Most of the time and in most places, the nation's roads, water supplies, waste disposal, and other infrastructure serve efficiently and reliably the wide range of economic and social activities comprising our daily lives. So effective is this technological system that few people especially note it. But sometimes a ruptured water main floods streets, transit tunnels, and downtown businesses, or street repairs break communications lines needed for airport operations, and we are reminded in most unfavorable terms of infrastructure's significance.1 The United States is served by what is arguably the most extensive infrastructure in history. The product of centuries of technological development and decades of construction, maintenance, and management, this system of roads and sewers, pipelines, and power plants is a valuable asset that contributes substantially to the quality of our lives. This asset2 has developed, for the most part, as separate and distinct generating plants, highways, waste repositories, and other facilities built and operated by a myriad of government agencies, independent authorities, and private corporations. Decisions made in earlier times—when populations were smaller, land was less intensively used, and we under-

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research stood less about our environment—leave us with facilities that are aging and often incapable of serving today's demands. The system is under stress and could be improved. At the same time, extraordinary advances are being made in electronics, telecommunications, materials, biotechnology, and other fields. These advances have enabled a wide range of new products and processes that improve health, safety, and the quality of life. The nation's infrastructure has changed, but opportunities continue to abound. We are able to travel farther and more rapidly than former generations, but find ourselves often delayed by traffic and distressed by vehicle-polluted air. We enjoy an unprecedented variety of foods and consumer products, at all seasons and throughout the nation, but regret the despoiling of our lands and waters with residue of packaging and other wastes. We depend on reliable water and energy supplies, and find our cities paralyzed when aging switches fail or pipes burst. In the face of competing social concerns and private needs, we want lower-cost infrastructure. Our infrastructure is not performing at levels its capability and new technology would permit, and can be improved. New technology—new materials, design methods, controls, operating procedures, maintenance practices, new understanding of how things work and what is needed, and more—these are means for improving infrastructure. Over the past decades, new methods for treating drinking water have vastly improved public health and kept the costs of water low. New traffic control devices have helped relieve congestion, in the face of rapidly increasing auto travel, and have reduced accident rates. New incinerators bum growing volumes of municipal waste, more efficiently and with less air pollution. Much of this new infrastructure technology is a product of research. RESEARCH AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE Research is a conscious and directed effort to increase our understanding and discover new and better ways to achieve our goals. We see all around us the fruits of modem research, from glass-fiber telecommunications cables to plastic water pipes, from computer-operated transit vehicles to highway pavements using recycled glass. Research has been a wellspring of improvements in America's infrastructure. This research has been conducted by government agencies, universities, private companies, and public laboratories working in many fields. Millions of dollars have been spent, but the effort pales in comparison with research spending in other fields. Although several professional groups have in recent years established research foundations, total infra-

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research structure research spending remains low. As a nation, we seem increasingly to question the value of research and devote less effort to research for improving infrastructure than the system's scale and significance to our basic well-being warrant. There are abundant needs and opportunities for infrastructure improvement that research can facilitate. New technologies emerging in the basic sciences may be applied to produce new materials and processes for infrastructure. New patterns of economic and societal activity are shifting the demands for infrastructure's services. New understanding of nature's mechanisms and humans' role is forcing us to expand the range of needs we expect our infrastructure to meet and to reconsider our priorities. We need our infrastructure to provide more services and to do so more effectively. Many times the research that gains support is undertaken as a response to emergencies. After an earthquake has caused major damage, agencies fund research on methods for repairing bridges that might have been strengthened earlier. When the public outcry grows strident over the apparent health risks posed by toxic wastes, industries search for ways to clean up what might have been prevented. We need to think ahead and anticipate demands of new infrastructure services. Research is a strategy for working smarter, doing better, and anticipating infrastructure needs. Research can produce infrastructure improvement when it is linked with effective ways to put results into practice. Research leading to infrastructure improvement can enhance our lives. But what specifically should be done, how, and by whom, and how can we do better, are questions that underlie this study. This report presents recommendations for at least a partial answer. THE STUDY AND ITS ORIGIN This report documents the results of a study undertaken by a committee of BRB and GEOB. The NSF approached NRC in 1991 to undertake a study to provide advice on the state of the art, basic research needs, and priorities related to the technology of physical infrastructure. BRB, in cooperation with GEOB, established the Committee for an Infrastructure Technology Research Agenda to conduct that study.3 The committee held its first meeting on June 29, 1992, and met four additional times during the following 18-month period, to discuss the issues raised by the NSF's request and to develop their recommendations. The committee also sponsored a two-day workshop at the National Academy of Science's Beckman Center in Irvine, California, on June 2 and 3, 1993, to expand the discourse and encourage a broader perspective in the committee's thinking.4

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research The NSF was created to increase the nation's base of scientific and engineering knowledge and strengthen its ability to conduct research in all areas of science and engineering (OFR, 1988). The NSF uses grants, awards, and contracts to initiate and support fundamental, long-term, merit-selected research at universities, nonprofit, and other research organizations. The NSF's programs have come under intense public scrutiny as policy makers struggle with global competition that threatens U.S. leadership in many areas of science, technology, and the industries that rely on them. Congressional committees and Presidential commissions have concluded that the United States, as a nation, needs to devote more money to R&D5 in industrial science and technology, to allocate that money more effectively, and to better utilize R&D investments. The NSF has a key role to play in this effort. The NSF's programs in Structures, Geomechanics, and Building Systems—within the agency's Directorate for Engineering, Division of Mechanical and Structural Systems—support research related to design, construction, maintenance, and operation of civil engineering systems and facilities. This includes research directed at understanding the science and technology of deteriorating infrastructure and actions that can be taken to diagnose, repair, retrofit, and enhance performance of existing facilities. Since 1991, the Directorate for Engineering has been working with other NSF units to define a program in CIS. The specific scope of CIS and related research are still evolving, but NSF staff have estimated that the NSF is the largest Federal supporter of basic CIS-related research, its $36 million annual spending (1992) accounting for some 65 percent of federal funding in this area (CIS Task Committee, 1993). THE SCOPE OF INFRASTRUCTURE In recent years the term ''infrastructure'' has emerged from technical obscurity to appear frequently in the press. Many people now recognize the word as a shorthand reference to a diverse system of facilities and services, ranging from airports to energy supply to landfills to wastewater treatment. Unlike public works, which it encompasses, the term infrastructure incorporates both physical assets and their economic, social, and political roles, and refers both to public activities and a rich mix of private and joint public-private enterprises. Constructed facilities—infrastructures, as some term them—are at the core of the concept, but are only part of the system. An earlier NRC committee wrote that infrastructure includes ". . . both specific functional modes—highways, streets, roads, and bridges; mass transit; airports and airways; water supply and water resources; wastewater management; solid-waste treatment and disposal; electric

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research power generation and transmission; telecommunications; and hazardous waste management—and the combined system these modal elements comprise. A comprehension of infrastructure spans not only these public works facilities, but also the operating procedures, management practices, and development policies that interact together with societal demand and the physical world to facilitate the transport of people and goods, provision of water for drinking and a variety of other uses, safe disposal of society's waste products, provision of energy where it is needed, and transmission of information within and between communities." (NRC, 1987) To these cited modes may be added public buildings—schools, health care facilities, government offices, and the like—that are linked by the functional systems they house to provide important public services, in much the same fashion as highways and water supply facilities.6 For all these elements of infrastructure, the engineering profession is by far the primary source of practitioners, and civil engineering is the leader in numbers of professionals and scope of interests. Much of infrastructure research has been civil engineering research. However, infrastructure calls on other types of engineers, economists, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, public administrators, and professionals in law, medicine, public health and safety, physical sciences, social sciences, and an increasingly broad range of other disciplines. Failure to acknowledge this broad range of disciplines and issues important to infrastructure leads frequently to large public controversy, high costs, and extensive comment and disruptions, as experienced by the pervasive "NIMBY" response7 to new technologies and construction. Infrastructure research draws on these disciplines as well. And just as infrastructure professionals have learned that multi-disciplinary teams are needed in planning and design, infrastructure research increasingly must bring together people with diverse backgrounds to pursue a complex common objective. THE BENEFITS OF INFRASTRUCTURE RESEARCH Despite the broad scope and diversity of infrastructure, several key common characteristics comprise an intellectual basis for addressing infrastructure as a system and define the benefits research can yield: Infrastructure is, to use the economists' term, "capital intensive," generally involving chiefly materials and equipment rather than labor input, and generally "lumpy," (i.e., capital is required in large concentrations that cannot be finely subdivided). Research can be beneficial by increasing reliable productivity of these capital investments—public assets that serve broad needs in the economy.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research Infrastructures, long lived and difficult to remove or retire, are routinely designed to meet demands projected for three decades or more into the future. Maintenance and periodic refurbishment are required, but the underlying structure often remains little changed, sometimes for centuries. Even when they are abandoned because they are thought no longer useful (e.g., railroads, and highways in areas of declining population), the facilities themselves are often left in place, too costly to remove. Sometimes the impact is more subtle, but equally long lasting, when systems such as street railways and wired fire-call boxes influence city development patterns, even when the technologies have been replaced. The long design lifetime of infrastructure facilities needs to be reconsidered. Technology for cost-effective down-sizing, adaptive reuse, or retirement and demolition of facilities may be needed. Research can enhance infrastructure flexibility to respond to change—growth, decline, and composition—in the needs for its services. The facilities and users of physical infrastructure are linked in generally complex and geographically extensive networks: roads and interchanges; water treatment plants, supply mains, and distributors; generating plants, transmission lines and step-down transformers; and sewers, treatment plants, and outfalls. These networks stretch over large areas, and often quickly transmit changes from one part of the system to another. Failure of a small element can have drastic consequence for large parts of the system. Research can be beneficial by improving our ability to understand and manage network performance. The various modes of infrastructure are fabricated using primarily Portland cement concrete, steel, and a number of other materials. The characteristics of these traditional materials have changed substantially since initial applications and new materials have been introduced, but ample room for improvement remains. Research can advance understanding of basic behavior of these materials, alone and in the structures they comprise, and of the mechanisms of their manufacture, fabrication, and performance. Their behavior can have broad impact on capability, cost, and durability of individual infrastructures. Infrastructure is valued not primarily for its own sake, but rather as support for other social and economic activities, an encouragement to economic development, or as a short-term source of jobs.8 A large amount of infrastructure is created because, in economists' terms, it serves demands deriving from these other activities. Demands for reliable water supplies for domestic and industrial use and fire fighting led to the growth of networks of pipes and treatment plants. Demands for flexible and inexpensive movement of people and goods gave rise to roads and highways. Service demand typically interacts with the facilities and management practices of infrastructure to determine the performance that infrastructure

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research delivers. Principles of economics, political science, sociology, psychology, and other behavioral sciences are primary sources of knowledge about these demands and how they impinge on infrastructure. Research can be beneficial if it enhances our understanding and ability to measure and manage demand for infrastructure services.9 Because infrastructure facilities are typically large, geographically extensive, and used by many people, infrastructure development and operations often have substantial environmental and social impacts. These impacts have frequently in the past been poorly estimated or neglected in planning and design, and often are badly managed within the context of traditional governmental, economic, and institutional relationships. The role of infrastructure as a factor shaping urban development is only partially described by current theory and statistical studies, as are the economic and social costs of inserting new systems into already developed areas. Research can enhance our ability to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts of infrastructure. GUIDING PRINCIPLES Early in their deliberations, the committee realized that their task could be enormous, and that focus would be needed if their work was to be effective. The committee adopted six key assumptions as guiding principles for their subsequent deliberations: The committee considered the NSF's unique role as a source of funds for infrastructure research. The NSF has no direct responsibilities for infrastructure development or management, and is charged to focus on activities intended to add to knowledge rather than to develop marketable products. In asking BRB and GEOB to conduct the study, the NSF requested that the committee focus on the state of the art, basic research needs, and priorities in the technology of physical infrastructure, but within the context of broad national policy issues. The committee thus undertook to identify key research needs and opportunities that could be linked to improved efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of infrastructure facilities and services. Other studies of infrastructure and research agenda-setting efforts10 provided additional context. Based on the findings of an earlier NRC study,11 the committee asserted that the NSF would make a great contribution to progress in enhancing the nation's infrastructure by adopting a broad view of infrastructure as an integrated system. This assertion became a basic premise for this study, and led the committee to look beyond its initial scope to a broad range of research needs and opportunities. The artificial disciplinary and institutional divisions among infrastructure modes and

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research professions are largely historical artifacts that impose barriers to development and adoption of new technology.12 The NSF can help to lower these barriers by fostering a broader interdisciplinary approach to research. The committee thus agreed to concentrate its attention on R&D that reflects and encourages such an interdisciplinary and intermodal outlook. The committee noted that infrastructure has both private and public aspects. Although current trends toward privatization of some modes while others are shifting toward greater government involvement make it difficult to state a sharp definition of "public," the committee agreed to focus on the public aspects. In this context, "public" conveys meanings related to service to the public, public ownership or operation, and public-sector economics that can be recognized and used to guide—but not to restrict—the scope of the NSF's research programs. This third assumption notwithstanding, the committee agreed that exchanges of technology between private and public sectors are crucial to the effectiveness of infrastructure R&D. Partnerships of government, academia, and industry are a way to apply limited R&D resources to the search for innovation. The committee agreed that they would focus their attention on infrastructure improvements achievable in the medium-term future (i.e., ten to twenty years hence) in identifying R&D opportunities and assessing priorities. The long physical life and major commitment of public resources embodied in infrastructure make rapid major change in existing networks and patterns of urban development unlikely. 13 New technology is most likely to be adopted if its benefits can be captured without requiring sudden, substantial disruption of existing urban fabric. The medium term is far enough in the future for urban development to evolve through traditional market action, allowing gradual insertion of new infrastructure technology.14 The committee agreed to accord higher priority to R&D aimed at new infrastructure technology likely to be permissive of alternative future urban development patterns and unlikely to restrict or undermine the viability of existing urban areas. In applying this principle to their work, the committee sought to avoid Utopian schemes and to develop recommendations that are "robust" (i.e., likely to yield substantial payoffs of infrastructure innovation). The committee resolved to exclude from this study any direct consideration of such complex and politically contentious issues as nuclear power and radioactive waste management, large-scale toxic and hazardous waste cleanup, seismic design and risk analysts, and air-pollution control strategies. Such problems are closely allied with infrastructure, but are the target of extensive federal legislation and popular debate. The committee quickly concluded that they had little to add to those discussions.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT This report documents the study and the committee's deliberations and recommendations. The committee intended that its work support the NSF's efforts to define a CIS program, but the committee also looked beyond the immediate scope of the NSF's CIS programs to consider research needs for the nation's infrastructure as a whole. The committee intends its work to offer guidance to the full range of the nation's infrastructure researchers and research sponsors. Chapter 2 begins with a review of the status of infrastructure research in the United States and the NSF's role in mobilizing and directing U.S. infrastructure research capabilities. Drawing on this background and applying the six principles stated to guide their work, the committee defined seven cross-cutting research niche areas15 within the broad range of infrastructure technology. These seven niches, essentially clusters of common science and technology issues, the committee judged to be particularly well suited to the NSF's goals and role in research sponsorship. The committee used their descriptions of these seven niches as idea generators for more specific topics for research. 16 Chapters 3 through 9 describe these seven niches and the committee's suggestions of researchable topics that the NSF and others should address. Taken as a whole, these chapters present a broad scope of basic and strategic infrastructure research that is (1) likely to yield results to fill an identifiable need or bring explicit benefits to development and operation of U.S. infrastructure and (2) appropriate for NSF sponsorship. The committee considered a wide range of candidate researchable topics to develop their recommendations. These topics were drawn from the review of published reports on infrastructure research needs, committee members' understanding of the needs for U.S. infrastructure improvement (presented in committee meetings and written proposals by individual committee members), and suggestions by participants in the Irvine workshop. The committee agreed that the topics in Chapters 3 through 9 warrant two approaches. Discipline-based researchers (e.g., mathematicians, economists, materials scientists, and computer software developers) can approach these topics as opportunities to advance and apply their disciplines to the needs of multi-modal infrastructure. At the same time, researchers specialized in the technologies of individual infrastructure modes (e.g., highways, water supply, and municipal solid-waste management) can approach these topics as generalized statements of problems in their traditional fields. The committee presents these seven niches and the researchable topics comprising each niche area as guidance rather than prescription. The

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research committee acknowledges that many other topics that might have been suggested are missing from Chapters 3 through 9. The typical research questions included within many topic-area descriptions17 are the committee's suggestions, which individual researchers and research centers may consider in developing programs that match needs and research capabilities. Chapter 10 presents the committee's suggestions regarding how partnerships of researchers and research users, working together, can pursue the cross-cutting philosophy of this agenda. NOTES 1 Among the newsworthy recent infrastructure failures were the floodings of downtown Chicago and Washington, D.C., and water-supply contamination in Milwaukee, but perusal of local newspapers reveals many others. 2 The value of the nation's infrastructure also is uncertain. Estimates by earlier study committees have placed this value in excess of $1.4 trillion (Grant and Lemer, 1993). Statistics published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce indicate total gross value of private and public infrastructure stock (i.e., at investment cost, without depreciation) in 1991 to be at least $3.6 trillion, excluding mining and petroleum and natural gas recovery facilities. Estimates of damage in such recent natural disasters as Hurricane Andrew, the Loma Prieto and Northridge earthquakes, and flooding in the Mississippi River basin suggest that current replacement costs would be even greater. 3 Biographical sketches of the committee members and staff are presented in Appendix A. Appendix B is the project description, stating the committee's scope of work as initially planned and approved on May 14, 1991, by the Executive Committee of the NRC's Governing Board. The grant agreement between the NRC and the NSF covered the period from December 15, 1991 to May 31, 1994. 4 Participants in this workshop are listed in Appendix C. A planned second workshop was not held, because of reduced project scope, schedule, and funding considerations (refer to Appendix B). 5 The distinctions between research and development are often unclear. "Research" generally is characterized on a continuum from "basic," concerned with expansion of knowledge for its own sake, to ''applied," aimed at solving practical problems and bringing new products or processes to market. Research seeking new knowledge that may have particular applications but is not market-oriented is sometimes termed "strategic.'' "Development" occurs at the latter end of the continuum and often extends beyond, into production technology, marketing, and other activities associated with applications of research results in practice. In both common usage and this report, "research" and "R&D" may be used interchangeably. 6 Public lands—parkland, open space, wilderness areas—could be added. These lands have aesthetic and recreational value, and also (through the work of vegetation and ecologies they support) a role in enhancing supplies of clean air and water. However, the committee determined that these concerns were beyond the scope of its study.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research 7 The term "NIMBY," acronym for Not in My Back Yard, has entered the language as a noun, designating unpopular projects as well as public response to such projects. 8 However, major infrastructure facilities can become important landmarks, community symbols, and cultural icons. The Brooklyn Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge, for example, are valued elements of their communities, with meaning that far exceeds their transportation role. Similarly, for many environmentalists the Glen Canyon Dam epitomizes battles lost. 9 Political factors also determine how infrastructure is developed. Infrastructure decisions may reflect value choices or distributions of political power, and may not seem economically rational. Research can enhance understanding of the impact of such factors. 10 Chapter 2 includes a review of a number of such previous agenda-setting efforts. 11 See Grant and Lemer, 1993. 12 For an extensive discussion of barriers to technological innovation that affect infrastructure see Dibner and Lemer, 1992. 13 Some historians have argued that rapid destruction of large parts of urban areas, for example through earthquake, fire, or war, created unique opportunities to introduce new technologies and rapidly upgrade old infrastructure systems. However, patterns of land ownership often survive catastrophe, obstructing change and slowing progress. "Short term" for these systems is probably five to ten years in the future, and systems can last for decades. 14 Historians have written that widespread conversion from horse-drawn to electric-traction street railways at the end of the nineteenth century, and introduction of sand filters for purifying municipal water supply, occurred in the United States over little more than a decade (Blake, 1956; Nye, 1990). 15 The committee adopted this term to indicate that other funding agencies might well choose to concentrate their efforts on different sets of topics within the same general framework. 16 The methods employed in identifying the niche areas and researchable topics within each niche area are summarized in Appendix D. 17 Typical questions are indicated by bullets (•) in Chapters 3 through 9. In posing these questions, the committee sought to present their ideas in a form that could be readily translated into proposals for research or requests for proposals.

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Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research GATEWAY CENTER, UNION STATION, LOS ANGELES Gateway Center at Union Station is to be a nexus for Los Angeles' burgeoning public transit systems, linking a new metro subway station with suburban bus and light rail lines. The project is inserted into a developed area which had reached a density such that the linkage became essential. Urgency of the scheme was heightened by regional air pollution and traffic congestion problems. With increasing coordination of infrastructure planning and rehabilitation, junctions between subsystems become increasingly important. Significant advantages might be achieved through relocation of compatible elements in common use corridors.