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Infrastructure and transportation experts available to comment on President Biden’s infrastructure plan

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Three Northwestern University infrastructure and transportation experts are available to discuss President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. Specific areas of expertise and interest include policy and methods for prioritizing needs; functional aspects of infrastructure and the changing role of big city downtowns; and current approaches in infrastructure design and construction.

Joseph Schofer is an expert on transportation and infrastructure policy. He can speak on evaluating real needs and if “fix it first” is the best strategy. Setting investment priorities, paying the bills and learning from experience are important to avoid future infrastructure deficits, Schofer says.

Schofer is host and co-creator of The Infrastructure Show, a podcast about our nation’s infrastructure, now in its 11th year. He is professor of civil and environmental engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering. Schofer can be reached at j-schofer@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Schofer:

“Before we spread money all over the landscape, let’s consider how we created this infrastructure deficit in the first place and how we can design a future less dependent on relying on failure to motivate timely action.

“All infrastructure is not worth saving. The challenge is to figure out what is. It depends on condition, of course, but also on need, value of the functionality it provides, and our vision of the future.”

Hani Mahmassani can talk about most functional aspects of infrastructure – both urban and national/global infrastructure – and the need to relieve congestion in many critical corridor and intermodal hubs, particularly ports and airports. He also can discuss urban mobility and the need to recognize that the role of downtown areas of large cities is changing yet again, including public transit and new models for delivering infrastructure. 

Mahmassani can talk about the need for a systems view – examining infrastructure investments from a network perspective rather than the current patchwork of wish-list pet projects – and the need for sustained financing for the long-term operation and maintenance of the infrastructure. 

He is director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center and the William A. Patterson Distinguished Chair in Transportation at McCormick. Mahmassani can be reached at masmah@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Mahmassani:

“It is high time for the U.S. to focus on its infrastructure and its ability to meet the requirements of a modern, technologically advanced global economy while meeting the aspirations of its residents for efficient, equitable and sustainable mobility. We need a compelling vision for what the infrastructure can and should deliver and the tools and mechanisms to advance a system-level view rather than the current patchwork of ad hoc projects.” 

James Hambleton is an expert in how structural and geotechnical (subsurface) systems are designed and how they can fail. He can comment on (1) current approaches in infrastructure design and construction, (2) research trends that will determine physical infrastructure of the future and (3) what makes a good civil engineer (spoiler: skills in math and science are essential, and a sense of humor certainly helps).

Hambleton is the Louis Berger Junior Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineeringat McCormick. He can be reached at jphambleton@northwestern.edu and 847-660-4256.

 Quote from Hambleton:

“Think about how good it feels to make a home improvement, and then imagine how spectacular it must feel to engineer something massive. Civil engineers do it every day, and the world needs more of them, especially because the world is changing.”