Infrastructure Matters

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Steven C.F. Anderson, founder and managing director of InfrastructureUSA , a website seeking to start a national online dialog about America's civil infrastructure, and Edward G. Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania (D) and co-founder of the infrastructure coalition Building America’s Future, talk about the need for upgrading U.S. civil infrastructure.


Steven C.F. Anderson and Edward G. Rendell

Comments [18]

Linda from Upper west Side

Wonderful and much needed discussion. I think about this all the time -- you can't help it if you live in New York City -- and how many jobs there are waiting to be filled if we ever get serious about rebuilding America's infrastructure. And speaking of rail travel: I flew New York to DC one time; I never will again. I thought it would be faster. Technically it was, but the airport red tape and travel to the airport and schlepping at either end erased that advantage. Nothing compares in convenience to rail for most regional travel.

Jan. 13 2010 11:11 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

More train infrastructure would be fantastic, but in doing so there would HAVE to be better prices for train travel. Right now prices are outrageous (unless using commuter trains). I often travel home to Providence from New York, and unless I am taking very early morning or late evening trains, the prices are through the roof! from $80-$100 one way for a 3 hour trip to Providence? That's $160-$200 round-trip, which is ridiculous. The Acela train, which arrives 20 minutes before the normal speed train, is $120 at least. These prices just aren't affordable. I love train travel, but end up using the bus all the time for price reasons (which is $72 round-trip).
When I lived in Italy train travel was easy and cheap. Trains were frequent and affordable. 10-20 Euros from Turin to Milan? That's great! Why can't why have better costs like these??

Jan. 13 2010 11:06 AM
hjs from 11211

Jan. 13 2010 11:02 AM
hjs from 11211

Edward Rendell, what is the status of the scranton to NYC train???

Jan. 13 2010 11:01 AM

back in the 90s i had the privilege of hosting a number of top level govt delegations from several poor countries. first visits for most. of everything they saw in ny, wash dc. and points in between, the phrase i heard over and over and over: "VERY GOOD INFRASTRUCTURE!" It seemed to change everything they thought and misunderstood about america and instead gave them a world to aspire to. respect for something larger than ourselves, that's what is embodied by infrastructure, although until this experience it had been invisible to me. As our infrastructure crumbles or improves, of course I continue to see our infrastructure in this light.

Jan. 13 2010 10:59 AM
Lorraine from Westchester

Lots of talk about money for schools, but not so much about the buildings themselves. My school had has heating problems since October. Teachers and students are wearing their coats indoors and we are told to "send memos" to various administrators! It's been a very cold winter.

Jan. 13 2010 10:59 AM
Susan from Kingston

The Hudson Valley in New York is a great candidate for high speed rail and a rail system that connects the east side of the river and the west of the river which would benefit all who live here.

Jan. 13 2010 10:58 AM
Uos from Queens

what's the point of subsidizing high speed rail? the railroads have been losing money for a long time.. it'll be another piece of infrastructure that will suck money from the roads, subways, trains that are already there

if it was sustainable, environmentally and economically.. businesses would put up the money

Jan. 13 2010 10:57 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

There is an equivalent problem in the 5 boroughs -- try using public transit to go from Brooklyn to Queens to the Bronx. That's a two to three hour trip. It takes me one hour or more to get from Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to the GW Bridge and then another hour and change to go the next 75 miles. It's nuts.

As for rail, the US auto manufacturers oppose rail with the same vitriol that unhealth insurers oppose the public option.

The fundamental problem is that Americans reject categorically the idea that public spending on public goods (water, transit, energy) is a good thing. The US may be alone in the world in this idiotic, self-destructive thinking.

Jan. 13 2010 10:56 AM
jess from Brooklyn

It's not just the suburbs- Brooklyn and Queens are based on getting into Manhattan as well. I live in North Brooklyn and it's ridiculously complicated to get to many other parts of Brooklyn. Why doesn't the G train connect to the other lines? I mean even at Atlantic Terminal you have to walk two blocks above ground...

Jan. 13 2010 10:56 AM
hjs from 11211

why do americans only think in the short term. is there a defect in our DNA?

Jan. 13 2010 10:54 AM
Denise from Stony Brook

What percentage of this infrastructure would be going to public transportation (high speed trains/subways/etc.)? We are so far behind in this regard across the country.

Jan. 13 2010 10:52 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

Water infrastructure is one of the major - if often hidden and taken for granted - that we need to take care of in the U.S.

As the NYT Toxic Waters series have been showing (, providing clean tap water to all Americans is something that we have been ensuring for over a 100 years and need to upgrade now for our own health and safety.

Check out Food and Water Watch for its support of HR 3202, a federal clean water trust fund.

Clean water also means protecting water at the source as well as maintaining good water treatment plants.

Jan. 13 2010 10:50 AM
John from NYC

Brian – Please ask the governor if he realizes that when he speaks of building a new (“smart”) energy infrastructure, at the moment the US lack the strategic minerals (neodymium, lanthanum) required to build the wind turbines and electronic switching circuits that would be needed to support such an endeavor. These rare earths are predominantly mined in China, and presently the Chinese are holding back on shipping these minerals to our detriment – see article in the Daily Mirror:

Additionally, the mining of these minerals results in toxic waste and tailings... no easy answer here.

Jan. 13 2010 10:50 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

I travel back and forth to Baltimore and Boston for work, and I prefer trains to planes. What's going on with the high speed trains in the Northeast? When can I take a high speed train to Maine?

Jan. 13 2010 10:49 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Certainly have to agree on infrastructure issues.

The telephony of the US is far behind that of Europe and much of Asia.

The US is also in rapid decline on issues of health care, as we all know (except for delusional money-grubbers in Congress and health insurers).

The US is now facing (hard to believe) a brain-drain. A CalTech professor had a letter in yesterday's Times on the growing exodus of top academics.

Jan. 13 2010 10:45 AM
Jake from UES

More highspeed trains connecting the cities. They'd cut down on air traffic, make it more inexpensive to get around the country and maybe not make New York such a focal point of the country (and encourage the arts in other places).

Jan. 13 2010 10:43 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from manhattan

Great idea....but how can we afford infrastructure spending in NYS when we are burdened with massive entitlement commitments for years to come?

Realitically, Obama has only one more politically viable stimulus bailout remaing.

Well, here's how NYS can fund new infrastructure:

1) Acknowledge that NYS has only 6.4% of the US population but accounts for 14% of national Medicaid spending.

2) Marvel at the effectiveness of Dennis Rivera and the 1199 Healthcare Workers Union to lobby for the relentless growth of this behemoth. (NYS spends 25% more than California which has TWICE as many people on the program and just as many "special needs" of a diverse poulation.)

3) Cut NYS Medicaid spending by 45% (we would then be at the national average) but promise to give all the jobs created ONLY to 1199 members.

4) Voila'....lavish funding would mysteriously appear for infrastrucure spending in Albany.

Now, whether any of the work would be completed is another matter.

Jan. 13 2010 10:42 AM

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