Saturday, July 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Maybe infrastructure is sexier than Bob Herbert thinks?

We mentioned the other day that New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has been campaigning to get Americans to pay more attention to infrastructure. But here's another perspective, via Alex Marshall at Governing: Americans have begun paying attention to infrastructure, a heck of a lot more than we used to.

Maybe infrastructure is sexier than Bob Herbert thinks?

We mentioned the other day that New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has been campaigning to get Americans to pay more attention to infrastructure. But here's another perspective, via Alex Marshall at Governing: Americans have begun paying attention to infrastructure, a heck of a lot more than we used to.

The decade of 2000 to 2010 has earned many monikers — the aughts, the null decade, the double-Os — and most of them are negative. But good things also happened in the last 10 years, one of which is the increasing recognition of and focus on infrastructure. A decade ago, the word "infrastructure" was hardly known outside the specialized worlds of public works departments. Now editorial writers bandy it about without explanation.

This was the decade of infrastructure. This was the decade when a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis and focused a nation's attention on the vast litany of rusting and decrepit bridges, among other infrastructure, and the need for funds to repair them. This was the decade when a new bridge was built and opened in just over a year — a compliment to the capacity of professionals to work fast when needed.

While this new focus and appreciation haven't fully translated into an investment in infrastructure, Marshall says, "it's a necessary first step." In other words, cheer up, Bob Herbert! Maybe the glass is half full.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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