Context - Fall 2016 - 24


BY DR. PETER ANGELIDES
Questions about infrastructure often quickly devolve in to discussions
about congestion, difficulty in parking, and a sense that if only one's pet
project were funded, all would be fine.  To avoid falling into the same
rhetoric, it's critical to set the foundation: examine what infrastructure
is and the important considerations of infrastructure investment. Unlike
most other types of government spending, infrastructure is expensive,
long-lasting, has significant ongoing maintenance costs, and profound
impacts on the built environment. These facts have implications on what
kind of infrastructure investments to make and how to pay for them. 
Once the base is laid, we can look at several infrastructure needs and
proposals in the Philadelphia region through these lenses.
At its core, infrastructure is about making significant investments
today for a better tomorrow, either for enjoyment, as in a park, museum,
or sports facility or for economic productivity, such as improved public
transport, roads, or energy systems. Though investment decisions are
based on the current built environment, and hence reflect past decisions, infrastructure investment is truly about the future, not the past. 
In other words, decisions about infrastructure investments we make
today should reflect how we want the future to look.  For example, if
we want an auto-dominated future, we should continue to invest heavily
24

FALL 2016 | context | AIA Philadelphia

in auto-focused infrastructure.  If we want a different future, we should
invest heavily in alternative types of infrastructure.
Infrastructure leads to growth in several ways.  The most direct route
to growth is when infrastructure satisfies a direct economic need, such as
faster transportation, faster and more reliable telecommunications, and
cleaner water.  In the US, most of these initial investments have already
been made, though there are still opportunities for incremental improvement.  Another route to economic growth is to recognize that most
employment can locate nearly anywhere, and that firms will often locate
where they can find a labor force that satisfies their needs. Infrastructure
that makes workers happy, then, contributes to economic growth by
making the region attractive to the types of workers that firms need. 
Workers, when deciding where to locate and how much to accept in
compensation, will accept lower wages to be in a place they like than
in a place they do not like.  Thus, civic amenity infrastructure - such as
museums, stadiums, trails, parks and the like, are economic development
engines as well as happiness generators for the public.
Infrastructure is generally expensive to construct, but what is often
forgotten is that it is also incredibly costly to maintain.  One need only
look at the disastrous state of affairs in Washington's Metro system, a

PHOTO: MONTGOMERY COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION

INFRASTRUCTURE -
IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
AND APPLICATION TO
REGIONAL PROJECTS



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Fall 2016

Editors’ Letter
Community
Up Close
Expression
Design Profiles
Marketplace
Index to Advertisers
Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly1
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly2
Context - Fall 2016 - cover1
Context - Fall 2016 - cover2
Context - Fall 2016 - 3
Context - Fall 2016 - 4
Context - Fall 2016 - Editors’ Letter
Context - Fall 2016 - Community
Context - Fall 2016 - 7
Context - Fall 2016 - 8
Context - Fall 2016 - 9
Context - Fall 2016 - Up Close
Context - Fall 2016 - 11
Context - Fall 2016 - Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Context - Fall 2016 - 13
Context - Fall 2016 - 14
Context - Fall 2016 - 15
Context - Fall 2016 - Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Context - Fall 2016 - 17
Context - Fall 2016 - 18
Context - Fall 2016 - 19
Context - Fall 2016 - Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - 21
Context - Fall 2016 - 22
Context - Fall 2016 - 23
Context - Fall 2016 - 24
Context - Fall 2016 - 25
Context - Fall 2016 - 26
Context - Fall 2016 - 27
Context - Fall 2016 - Expression
Context - Fall 2016 - 29
Context - Fall 2016 - Design Profiles
Context - Fall 2016 - 31
Context - Fall 2016 - 32
Context - Fall 2016 - 33
Context - Fall 2016 - 34
Context - Fall 2016 - 35
Context - Fall 2016 - 36
Context - Fall 2016 - Marketplace
Context - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Context - Fall 2016 - cover3
Context - Fall 2016 - cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0416
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0316
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0216
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0116
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0415
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/AIPQ/AIPQ0315
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com