Rebuilding America

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A member of a construction crew works under an Interstate 95 bridge in Philadelphia, Monday, July 28, 2008. A report released by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials says one out of every four U.S. bridges needs to be modernized or repaired with the cost estimated to be at least $140 billion. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A member of a construction crew works under an Interstate 95 bridge in Philadelphia, July 28, 2008. (AP)

Barack Obama has promised massive public spending and millions of new jobs on projects building and rebuilding roads and bridges, transit and energy systems — the world that undergirds our economy and daily lives.

But exactly what kind of infrastructure? Patching up the old 20th-century? Or rolling out the 21st? Brown? Or green? And in a system built for boondoggle and bridges to nowhere, how do we make sure it’s done right?

This hour, On Point: Which America will we build?Guests:

From Washington, we're joined by David Leonhardt. He writes the Economic Scene column for The New York Times and contributes to the Economix blog on A recent column, "Piling Up Monuments of Waste," looked at the problem of how infrastructure dollars are spent.

Also joining us from Washington is Robert Puentes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, and formerly the senior planner at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.  In this March 2008 piece for The Atlantic, he looked at how America's aging infrastructure threatens the economy. (The accompanying graphic shows where the nation's roadways are exceeding capacity and how much the congestion costs.)

And joining us from San Francisco is Jonathan David Miller, consultant for the Urban Land Institute and the author of its recent report, “Infrastructure 2008: A Competitive Advantage.” He is a founder of the consulting firm Miller & Ryan.

More Links:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's plan to strengthen America's transportation system (.pdf document)

This program aired on December 4, 2008.


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