City and Regional Planning

Posted July 31, 2020

Understanding Infrastructure with John Landis

On the PennToday podcast “Understand This…,” Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning John Landis joins and Robert Inman, the Richard King Mellon Professor Emeritus of Finance in the Wharton School, for a conversation about infrastructure in the United States—what it is, what it might look like in the future, and how to pay for it.

Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud.

Below, find jump-off points for the conversation.

5:10: What is infrastructure? It is “more than cement,” clarifies Inman.

8:15: How infrastructure shifted when the federal government stopped paying for infrastructure “in a huge way” in the 1970s. Plus, how communications networks came to define an era of infrastructure development.

16:30: Infrastructure as a connector of ideas.

18:05: Landis describes the tendency to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to paying for new infrastructure. And how technology might offer a solution to the gas tax.

21:30: Willingness to pay taxes to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure of infrastructure.

32:30: How to prioritize infrastructure projects.

33:15: Infrastructure challenges in Philadelphia.

38:00: Climate change and infrastructure funding.