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Urban Institute Infrastructure Initiative

Infrastructure Initiative
 

The Program on Innovation in Infrastructure is a major research program designed to shed light on significant policy challenges facing all level of governments with emphasis on research questions that occur at the nexus of traditional academic disciplines and conventional policy domains. The Program on Innovation in Infrastructure is based on the belief that federal, state, and local policymakers urgently need rigorous empirical analysis of issues that cut across infrastructure systems including transportation, communications, and the energy grid.

Our research agenda bridges conventional specialties to understand four cross-cutting issues:

  • Privatization: its changing role in infrastructure provision and operation;
  • Performance Measurement: its emergence in project and budgetary evaluations, both before and after project selection;
  • Economic Efficiency: its growing use in project evaluation, particularly dependence on cost-benefit and related economic techniques to justify infrastructure projects; and,
  • Inter-generational communities: the infrastructure needs and challenges in creating new and retrofitting existing communities to better serve the needs of residents of all ages.

Today, the US faces major challenges in developing, maintaining, and financing physical infrastructure systems. Policy decisions about these choices will ripple across the economy and through the lives of families and business owners, with profound, long-term consequences for economic welfare, equity, environmental quality, and national security. The rigorous empirical research for which the Urban Institute is known can help shed new light on controversial policy choices.

Related Policy Center

Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center

From the Program on Innovations in Infrastructure:

Viewing 1-5 of 12. Most recent posts listed first.Next Page >>

Evaluation: Rebuild by Design Phase I (Research Report)
Carlos Martin, Pamela Lee, Elizabeth Oo, Helen Ho, Abigail Baum, Rolf Pendall, Diane K. Levy

Rebuild by Design launched in June 2013 by the federal Hurricane Sandy Task Force. HUD, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the JPB Foundation partnered with the Urban Institute to evaluate the first phase of RBD from conception through design awards. The evaluation found that RBD’s implementation held true to its innovative vision for integrating design competition into disaster recovery and its ambition for regional and resilient infrastructure. Leadership among the core partners and the magnitude of the $1 billion in CDBG-DR funding for awards motivated all of the key stakeholders in spite of an expedited timeframe and daunting requirements.

Posted to Web: October 13, 2014Publication Date: October 13, 2014

The Federal New Starts Program: What Do New Regulations Mean for Metropolitan Areas? (Research Report)
Kate Lowe, Sandra Rosenbloom

On January 9, 2013, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a new final rule for evaluating the applications submitted by metropolitan areas seeking major capital grants under the New Starts program. Despite the old guidelines, it appears that local characteristics, particularly local financial commitment, better explained the New Starts funding decisions between 1999 and 2011 than did Congressional influence or project justification. This new rule provides an opportunity to revisit the program’s design and grant evaluation process.

Posted to Web: April 01, 2014Publication Date: April 01, 2014

Urban Water: Strategies That Work (Research Report)
Sandra Rosenbloom, Elizabeth Oo, Joseph Cosgrove, Christopher Karakul

In the summer of 2013, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF), with the assistance of Urban Institute, held a series of Workshops, Urban Water: Strategies That Work. The Workshops informed New Orleans stakeholders about innovative green approaches to stormwater management, highlighting five vanguard cities: District of Columbia, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Portland (OR). Green stormwater techniques offer significant cost, environmental, health, and economic advantages over traditional, or gray, approaches. This report describes the emergence of green infrastructure for stormwater management; summarizes the main learnings from the five Workshops; and includes case summaries of the vanguard cities showcased in the Workshops.

Posted to Web: March 25, 2014Publication Date: December 09, 2013

Income Mixing across Scales: Rationale, Trends, Policies, Practice, and Research for More Inclusive Neighborhoods and Metropolitan Areas (Series/What Works Collaborative)
Laura Tach, Rolf Pendall, Alexandra Derian

Income mixing is strongly endorsed as a principle in housing and community development because it is expected to provide social diversity, help low-income people get access to higher-quality goods and services, and achieve social and economic integration. Yet mixing may also pose challenges, and homogeneity may have benefits that should not be abandoned. This paper suggests that the potential benefits of income mixing can be maximized by attending to geographic scale more carefully than has occurred in the past. It reviews policies across multiple scales and proposes research to understand how income mixing works at various scales.

Posted to Web: January 24, 2014Publication Date: January 24, 2013

Immigrant Legal-Aid Organizations in the United States (Research Report)
Erwin de Leon, Robert Roach

Any enacted immigration reform legislation that is comprehensive in scope will include a path to legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Based on the U.S. Senate bill passed in June 2013, the Congressional Budget Office projects about 8 million people will be eligible for regularization of status, most of whom will likely turn to nonprofits for legal assistance in maneuvering the process. Are there enough immigrant-serving organizations providing legal aid to meet the surge in demand when immigration reform finally happens? This brief begins to answer the question while posing additional ones.

Posted to Web: October 17, 2013Publication Date: October 17, 2013

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