Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Leinberger: Infrastructure Bank the Right Prescription for Ailing Economy

Between the punditry and horse race tracking that pass for modern reporting, we haven't seen much thoughtful analysis of what effects President Obama's $50 billion infrastructure plan might have on the anemic economy.

false

While specifics of the proposal are still forthcoming, land use expert Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution says a national infrastructure bank could be exactly the sort of fix we've been seeking. Writing at The Avenue, Leinberger argues that a combining public and private financing can help the country modernize its infrastructure and channel investment to support walkable development:

Today, there is huge pent-up demand for higher density development in human-scaled urban places. These places have price premiums that are 40 percent to 200 percent higher than the auto-oriented suburban development--the kind of development that has driven the economy into its Great Recession ditch. Transportation investment in repairing existing road networks, building new and repairing existing rail and bus transit, bike trails, and walking infrastructure will encourage the walkable urban development the market is demanding.

These investments will be leveraged with private dollars which should multiply the impact of the proposed $50 billion of public investment by a factor of three to five times. The private money will help insure the investment is smart--private investors are looking for a financial payback, not a political payback. The risk will be spread and private investors will insure it is prudent.

The built environment (real estate and infrastructure) is over 35 percent of the assets our economy deploys, the largest asset class by far. That asset class is on the sidelines because we have overbuilt the drivable suburban fringe of our metropolitan areas.

Because of its market orientation and potentially high rate of return, Leinberger calls the infrastructure bank "fiscally conservative." That's a message you aren't likely to hear from the cable networks over the coming months.

More highlights from the Network: Bike Portland considers Santa Rosa, California's new "Cyclisk," a 60-foot tall sculpture made out of recycled bikes. The Transport Politic parses the decision facing Vancouver -- expand Skytrain into a growing suburban region or continue its commitment to the urban core? And Circle & Squares Studio imagines the impact light rail might have on the city of Indianapolis.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Running Hard

More political news: Today's top stories delve into Kamala Harris' record on climate change and Republicans' plans for the Trump administration if he returns to power.

July 23, 2024

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024

State DOTs Could Fuel a Resurgence in Intercity Bus Travel

Private equity firms are killing off intercity bus companies. Will public agencies fill in the gaps?

July 23, 2024

GOP’s ‘Project 2025’ is ‘Based on a Lot of Ignorance’

What does Transportation for America's Beth Osborne think of the transportation portion of the Heritage Foundation's playbook for a Trump presidency?

July 23, 2024

What a Surprise! Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause Helps Rich Suburban Drivers

Gov. Hochul's "little guys" certainly have big wallets. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer with declining subway service and buses that are slower than walking. Thanks, Kathy.

July 22, 2024
See all posts