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Fixing America's Crumbling Infrastructure

Updating her comprehensive piece for TNR on America's collapsing infrastructure, Sarah Williams Goldhagen outlines how Obama should spend the hundreds of billions he's set aside for rebuilding. It's won't be easy:

First, a general one: Don't shortchange long-range planning and restructuring in the short-term interest of creating jobs by giving top priority to projects that are "shovel-ready." American leaders recognize the need to alter how this country uses energy; they may be less clear that this need should inspire them to fundamentally rethink American land use patterns and reconsider which patterns the government should discourage and which it should support. (To give one obvious example, higher density settlements reduce the need for frequent long-distance travel and thereby facilitate more efficient mass transit.) Second, a specific one with far-reaching ramifications: Don't ignore the gross inefficiency of the American construction industry on which many of these infrastructural initiatives will depend. (Studies estimate that somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of the total time spent on the average American construction site is wasted.)

Click here to read the rest of the update and the original article.