Source Newsroom: University of Illinois at Chicago
Newswise — Cities are scrapping public works projects that could help grow the knowledge economy if they don't expand infrastructure, says a national infrastructure expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Michael Pagano, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, co-authors the annual League of Cities "City Fiscal Conditions" report and the infrastructure section of the Pew Charitable Trust's biannual "Grading the States" report.
Pagano says the estimated $1.6 trillion infrastructure deficit swelled not only through neglect, but through bad pricing signals and the political will to overbuild.
"It's politically painless to neglect infrastructure maintenance, leaving it to the next administration. It's like changing your car's oil every 30,000 miles rather than every 3,000, then selling it -- to a relative," Pagano said.
"Maintenance to serve a networked knowledge economy must trump our voracious appetite to build, build, build."
Jobs can be created immediately, with no new plans, environmental impact statements, or land acquisition, to repair or replace deteriorated assets, he said.
Cities that want new or expansion projects should have to pay the lion's share of construction costs and lifetime maintenance, Pagano suggests.
"Why subsidize sprawl when our fixed assets need repair? Don't expand an overbuilt infrastructure," he said.
Metropolitan areas, not cities, should receive federal, state and local funds because they are now the "engines of growth," Pagano said.
"The modern economy is not demarcated by the political boundaries of states or cities," he said.
UIC ranks among the nation's top 50 universities in federal research funding and is Chicago's largest university with 25,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.
For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu.