In January 2017, APA asked members to share their thoughts on what "improvements to infrastructure" would mean for their communities. We heard from planners serving communities large and small. Their responses underscore the critical need for investment in our nation's infrastructure.
Here is what some APA members said:
"Improving my community's infrastructure means giving the citizens more options, truly multimodal transportation versus being stuck in the single occupant vehicle."
— Troy Ebbert (on APA TPD Facebook page)
"In my opinion, the infrastructure priorities for the upcoming administration should be focused on improving the condition of existing transportation facilities; focusing on public/private partnerships to finance new large highways and add capacity to existing large highways if new highways and additional capacity is truly justified; investing in all forms of transit; and solving the highway trust fund dilemma. Additionally, I feel that all areas should have adequate access to broadband capability and that a continuation of, or more programs like, the Connect America Fund (CAF) would be beneficial. I feel that greater federal involvement/partnerships in addressing water/sewer/drainage issues is needed, particularly in rural small towns and legacy cities. Finally, I feel there should be greater federal investment in renewable energy infrastructure."
— Jeff Derwort (to firstname.lastname@example.org)
"'Improving infrastructure'" [to me] means creating transportation networks focused on livability, sustainability and the needs of people instead of just vehicles and expediency. It also means using a collaborative planning process to deal with the ticking infrastructure time bombs that live under our roads."
— Kate Michaud (on APA TPD Facebook page)
"What is really needed more than anything is resiliency, flexibility, conserving resources, retrofitting, repairing, and concurrently reducing the dependence on electricity, computers, and fossil fuels as much as possible in a climate-changed world. We cannot afford to keep making new things now, and we need to stop trying to solve our problems in a 20th century mass consumption mindset.
"What also is needed is not just multimodal transportation, but one that provides an equal passenger experience for all users. As a disabled rider with firsthand public transit riding experience for six years in Los Angeles, California, the disabled community gets treated much poorer than other transit riders. Dedicated bike lanes, while their heart is in the right place, concern me as they block access to the handicapped and feel elitist if you are unable to use a bike like many in the disabled community are. This is what 'improving infrastructure' means to me in a climate-change world that takes all people and riders into equal consideration."
— Ben Verheiden (on APA TPD Facebook page)
"In brief: planning for and funding the consistent, continuous maintenance and improvement of the infrastructure we already have."
— John R. Weller, AICP (to email@example.com)
"'Improving infrastructure' means reforming transportation policies to prioritize (from highest to lowest) walking, biking, and transit over motor vehicles. Creating an environment favoring non-motorized transportation isn't just a more palpable fiscal risk to take on. It also influences the design of the public realm and the orientation of building forms to collectively incentivize active transportation, thereby serving as a catalyst for households to build internal wealth since there would be less need for people to own private vehicles.
"Reformed transportation policy is also about right-sizing infrastructure to induce economic participation by populations who have been literally and figuratively walled-off by massive highways and disconnected roadway networks. Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx led a crusade against such infrastructure; as a participant in USDOT's Every Place Counts Design Challenge (specifically, Philadelphia), I saw the creativity of planners, engineers, and citizens to reimagine the scale of infrastructure and how it serves competing interests.
"There's an equity component within the infrastructure dialogue that often seems lost, be it intentionally or otherwise. People are fighting losing battles because of a culture that wants to retain the status quo of motor vehicle-oriented infrastructure, and they're ultimately losing respect for themselves and a society that stifles their participation. 'Improving infrastructure' means making sure everyone's interests are supported, both in policy and product."
— Andrew Giraldi, AICP (on APA TPD Facebook page)
"The biggest accomplishment we could make with investment in infrastructure is to remake/revitalize the infrastructure we already have. Take poorly designed roadways and convert to complete streets. Where needed, use new found space in existing rights of way and convert to protected bike lanes or bus rapid transit lanes. Replace aging water, sewer and other underground utilities. Invest in inadequate stormwater systems and use a green approach to handling runoff. By investing in our existing communities we will add to our economic resiliency, encourage revitalization, and improve our quality of life. This approach will benefit both rural and urban America."
— Rodger Lentz, AICP (to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Top image: Pipes photo by Flickr user Paul (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).