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Joseph Kane: Prioritizing People (Not Projects) In Infrastructure Spending: As leaders in Washington, DC look to stimulate the American economy, one course of action with bipartisan support—as per usual—is to pour money into infrastructure. Yet as Strong Towns readers know, infrastructure spending often leads cities down the roa...

Joseph Kane: Prioritizing People (Not Projects) In Infrastructure Spending: As leaders in Washington, DC look to stimulate the American economy, one course of action with bipartisan support—as per usual—is to pour money into infrastructure. Yet as Strong Towns readers know, infrastructure spending often leads cities down the roa...

FromThe Strong Towns Podcast


Joseph Kane: Prioritizing People (Not Projects) In Infrastructure Spending: As leaders in Washington, DC look to stimulate the American economy, one course of action with bipartisan support—as per usual—is to pour money into infrastructure. Yet as Strong Towns readers know, infrastructure spending often leads cities down the roa...

FromThe Strong Towns Podcast

ratings:
Length:
59 minutes
Released:
Feb 22, 2021
Format:
Podcast Episode

Description

As leaders in Washington, DC look to stimulate the American economy, one course of action with bipartisan support—as per usual—is to pour money into infrastructure. Yet as Strong Towns readers know, infrastructure spending often leads cities down the road of insolvency rather than prosperity, and not all infrastructure spending is alike.
In a recent two-part policy brief, Joseph W. Kane and Shalini Vajjhala of The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program wrote that “to truly improve the country’s infrastructure and help the most vulnerable households, federal leaders cannot simply throw more money at shiny new projects. Instead, they must invest with purpose and undo the harms of our legacy infrastructure systems.” They continued: “Above all, leaders should prioritize people over projects in our infrastructure plans. In practice, that means defining, measuring, and addressing our infrastructure challenges based on the needs of users of new and existing systems.”
One of the authors of that brief, Joseph Kane, is the guest on this week’s episode of the Strong Towns podcast. Kane is a senior research associate and associate follow at the Metropolitan Policy Program. An economist and urban planner, his work focuses on wide array of built environment issues, including transportation and water infrastructure.
In this jam-packed episode, Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn talks with Kane about the role infrastructure spending could play as part of the recovery agenda. Kane and Marohn discuss why “building back better” (President Biden’s phrase) doesn’t have to mean “build back new;” it could mean build back different, build less, and maybe even take down what we’ve already built. They also talk about whether an infrastructure bill in the trillions of dollars can address the nuances of what’s actually needed at the local level, whether Americans are more comfortable with catastrophic failures than the small ones that might teach valuable lessons along the way toward economic resilience, and about Kane and Vajjhala’s four strategies that can help undo the harms of “legacy infrastructure systems.”
Additional Show Notes:

“Prioritize people, not projects: Addressing the harms of legacy infrastructure in the COVID-19 recovery,” by Joseph W. Kane and Shalini Vajjhala (Part 1)


“Four steps to undo the harms of legacy infrastructure in the COVID-19 recovery,” by Shalani Vajjhala and Joseph W. Kane (Part 2)


Joseph Kane (Twitter)


Charles Marohn (Twitter)


Select Strong Towns content on infrastructure spending

“The more we build, the poorer we get,” by Charles Marohn


“A Better Use of Federal Infrastructure Spending” (Podcast)


“The Worst Possible Thing We Can Do with This Money” (Podcast)


“What Should My City Do About Our Infrastructure Backlog?” by Charles Marohn


“Would a $2 Trillion Infrastructure Spending Surge Promote Good Planning?” by Daniel Herriges
Released:
Feb 22, 2021
Format:
Podcast Episode