Informing Pittsburgh’s Options to Address Lead in Water

Informing Pittsburgh’s Options to Address Lead in Water. RAND Corporation. Linnea Warren May, Jordan R. Fischbach, Michele Abbott. June 27, 2017.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is currently struggling to manage and improve its aging water system, with a focus on elevated lead levels for many customers. The issue is well covered in the local media, and several steps are being taken or proposed for remediating lead in Pittsburgh’s tap water. Under federal and state regulatory action and pressure from residents, the city is at a critical decision point for addressing the issue of lead in its water. This Perspective reviews the history and recent developments related to the use of lead in Pittsburgh’s water system and the policy options for lead remediation currently being weighed by local decisionmakers.

The authors review the costs, regulatory barriers, and feasibility of the various options under consideration, including the City of Pittsburgh’s new Safe Water Program and multiple pipe replacement options. They conclude with recommendations, including ensuring optimal pipe corrosion control and filtering in the immediate term and pursuing innovations from other cities to reduce the public and private costs of the permanent solution of full lead service line replacement. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 33 pages, 821.51 KB].

IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview

IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Michael Assante, Andrew Bochman. April 26, 2017

This paper extrapolates from present trends to describe plausible future crises playing out in multiple global cities within 10 years. While predicting the future is fraught with uncertainty, much of what occurs in the scenarios presented here is fully possible today and, absent a significant course change, probable in the timeframe discussed.

It is not hard to find tech evangelists touting that ubiquitous and highly interconnected digital technology will bring great advances in productivity and efficiency, as well as new capabilities we cannot foresee. This paper attempts to reveal what is possible when these technologies are applied to critical infrastructure applications en masse without adequate security in densely populated cities of the near future that are less resilient than other environments. Megacities need and will deploy these new technologies to keep up with insatiable demand for energy, communications, transportation, and other services, but it is important to recognize that they are also made more vulnerable by following this path. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages, 294.46 KB].

If You Build It: A Guide to the Economics of Infrastructure Investment

If You Build It: A Guide to the Economics of Infrastructure Investment. Brookings Institution. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Ryan Nunn, and Greg Nantz. February 7, 2017

A founding principle of The Hamilton Project’s economic strategy is that long-term prosperity is best achieved by fostering economic growth and broad participation in that growth. In that spirit, this paper seeks to provide an economic framework for evaluating infrastructure investments and their methods of funding and finance. Why should we invest in infrastructure, what projects should be selected, who should decide, and how should those investments be paid for are all questions that can be better answered with the help of sound economic theory and evidence. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages, 509.79 KB].

Delivering on Sustainable Infrastructure for Better Development and Better Climate

Delivering on Sustainable Infrastructure for Better Development and Better Climate. Brookings Institution. Amar Bhattacharya et al. December 23, 2016

2015 was a milestone year in which the world set clear and ambitious objectives through the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis in July; the UN Summit in September that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 development agenda; and the COP21 in Paris in December that resulted in the milestone climate agreement. The three central challenges now facing the global community, as crystallized in 2015, are to reignite global growth, deliver on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and invest in the future of the planet through strong climate action. At the heart of this new global agenda is the imperative to invest in sustainable infrastructure. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 160 pages, 5.62 MB].

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Robert S. Kirk, William J. Mallett. November 1, 2016

For many years, federal surface transportation programs were funded almost entirely from taxes on motor fuels deposited in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Although there has been some modification to the tax system, the tax rates, which are fixed in terms of cents per gallon, have not been increased at the federal level since 1993. Prior to the recession that began in 2007, annual increases in driving, with a concomitant increase in fuel use, were sufficient in most years to keep revenue rising steadily. This is no longer the case. Although vehicle miles traveled have recently surpassed prerecession levels, future increases in fuel economy standards are expected to reduce motor fuel consumption and therefore fuel tax revenue in the years ahead.
Congress has yet to address the surface transportation program’s fundamental revenue issues, and has given limited legislative consideration to raising fuel taxes in recent years. Instead, since 2008 Congress has financed the federal surface transportation program by supplementing fuel tax revenues with transfers from the U.S. Treasury general fund. The most recent reauthorization act, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), was enacted on December 4, 2015, and authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs through September 30, 2020. The act provided $70 billion in general fund transfers to the HTF to support the programs over the five-year life of the act. This use of general fund transfers to supplement the HTF will have been the de facto funding policy for 12 years when the FAST Act expires at the end of FY2020. The FAST Act did not address funding of surface transportation programs over the longer term. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections indicate that the HTF revenue shortfalls relative to spending will reemerge following expiration of the FAST Act.

[PDF format, 26 pages, 825.72 KB].

Infrastructure Issues and Options for the Next President

Infrastructure Issues and Options for the Next President. Brookings Institution. William A. Galston and Robert Puentes. October 13, 2016

U.S. infrastructure facilities are aging, overcrowded, under-maintained, and in desperate need of modernization. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 12th in the world for overall quality of infrastructure and assigns particularly low marks for the quality of our roads, ports, railroads, air transport infrastructure, and electricity supply. It is abundantly clear that to be economically competitive in today’s world, adequate investment in infrastructure is critical. And yet, U.S. spending on infrastructure has declined over the past five decades. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress

The First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Linda K. Moore. June 17, 2016.

Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112–96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, by creating the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The act allocated 10 MHz of additional radio frequency spectrum to accommodate the new network and required that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assign a license to FirstNet, comprising the newly designated frequencies plus 10 MHz previously assigned to states by the FCC for public safety use. In addition, the act designated federal appropriations of over $7 billion for the network and other public safety needs. These funds are provided through new revenue from the auction of licenses to the commercial sector in other spectrum bands.

[PDF format, 29 pages, 988.86 KB].