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Investing in America’s infrastructure: From bridges to broadband

Friday, July 25, 2008

The state of the nation’s infrastructure is generating rising public attention, prompted by daily travel frustrations, high-profile catastrophes, urgent calls to address climate change and energy security, and concerns about productivity and economic growth.

On July 25, 2008, The Hamilton Project released six new policy papers and hosted a public forum on the need for a national strategy that promotes infrastructure as a central component of long-term, broadly shared growth. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine joined former U.S. Treasury secretaries Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers in the opening session of the forum. Summers gave remarks on the role of infrastructure investments in stimulating economic growth, particularly in the current difficult economic context. Kaine addressed the infrastructure challenges facing the states with a focus on his experiences in the Commonwealth. The opening session concluded with an opportunity for audience Q&A.

Hamilton Project Director and Brookings Senior Fellow Douglas W. Elmendorf gave a brief overview of a new strategy paper that emphasizes the role of market mechanisms in using existing infrastructure more efficiently and proposes new ways to facilitate better public decision-making on infrastructure spending. The event also featured two roundtables on different types of infrastructure spending. The first roundtable, on telecommunications infrastructure, explored how to make better use of the wireless spectrum and share the benefits of technology broadly. Two new Hamilton Project discussion papers were released: “The Untapped Promise of the Wireless Spectrum,” by Philip J. Weiser; and “Bringing Broadband to Unserved Communities,” by Jon M. Peha. The second roundtable, on physical infrastructure, focused on specific tools for utilizing our infrastructure more efficiently. Three new proposals featured in the discussion were “America’s Traffic Congestion Problem: Toward a Framework for Nationwide Reform,” by David Lewis; “Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance: A Simple Way to Reduce Driving-Related Harms and Increase Equity,” by Jason E. Bordoff and Pascal J. Noel; and “Creating a Safer and More Reliable Air Traffic Control System,” by Dorothy Robyn.


Opening Session

Special Guest: Governor Tim Kaine
Commonwealth of Virginia

Robert E. Rubin
Citigroup, Inc.

Lawrence H. Summers
Harvard University

Overview of Strategy Paper

Douglas W. Elmendorf
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

Roundtable on Telecommunications Infrastructure

Blair Levin
Stifel Nicolaus

Jon M. Peha
Carnegie Mellon University

Philip J. Weiser
University of Colorado

Moderator: Glenn H. Hutchins
Silver Lake

Roundtable on Physical Infrastructure

Ronald Blackwell

Jason E. Bordoff
Policy Director, The Hamilton Project

David L. Lewis
HDR Decision Economics

Dorothy Robyn
The Brattle Group

Moderator: Nancy Cordes
CBS News