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Upgrading U.S. infrastructure is ‘long overdue,’ expert says

EVANSTON, Ill. — As the White House announces an infrastructure plan later today, an expert from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management says that upgrading U.S. highways, transit systems and airports is long overdue.

David Besanko is the IBM Professor of regulation and competitive practices at Kellogg where he teaches courses in public economics and infrastructure strategy. He can be reached by contacting Molly Lynch at 773-505-9719 or

Quote from Professor Besanko
“A national commitment to upgrade existing infrastructure — whether it is highways, urban transit systems, airports or water systems — is long overdue. A push to create new infrastructure to support a low-carbon economy — charging stations for electric vehicles and advanced battery storage — would be a game changer. And a push to protect against the already severe effects of climate change — electric power grids, flood control systems and storm sewer systems — is being forced upon us whether we like it or not.

“All of these are long-term capital investments, so borrowing to finance their delivery should not be a constraint. In addition, there are natural funding mechanisms, such as increasing the gasoline tax, adopting congestion pricing, charging highway user fees for trucks by axle weight or taxing vehicle miles travelled are all candidate funding mechanisms for surface transportation infrastructure.

“These investments will ultimately increase the standard of living for Americans, either using simple traditional metrics (GDP per capita) or more sophisticated economic metrics (social benefits relative to social costs).”