Economists really need to become an integral part of the comprehensive planning process. America’s infrastructure is crumbling. And there are fewer dollars to replace it all, all the while cities continue to expand their borders, annex lands, build ring roads and highways, widen roads, ad infinitum. The salary of an economist will be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of implementing pie-in-the-sky comprehensive plans. Business owners, property owners, community stakeholders will need to shore up their resources and contribute to the maintenance and funding of new roads and bridges as their home cities grow.
A recent editorial in Atlantic Cities laments the regulations and policies that have, according to the author, driven up the costs of infrastructure investments in the United States.
Scott Beyer launches his investigation into the high costs of infrastructure with an acknowledgement of the difficult partisanship that has crippled infrastructure development in recent decades. Beyer’s insight into the gridlock: the political discord comes down to a question of how to operate the infrastructure once it’s been delivered.
The crux of Beyer’s examination is a list of policies, imposed by the federal government and, according to Beyer, strengthened by the Obama Administration. The list includes Davis-Bacon Laws, environmental reviews, and project labor agreements. After detailing the items on the list, Beyer poses the question of whether the secondary policy goals of employment and unionization should come at the expense of building or maintaining infrastructure.