Seeking the Next Interstate System, This Time Without Asphalt

84456523_f3128c7b09.jpgBlast from the past. (Photo: Payton Chung via Flickr)

The construction of the interstate highway system defined the landscape of late-20th-century America. What will be the transformative infrastructure of the 21st century?

As Noah Kazis wrote on Streetsblog NYC a couple of days ago, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) would like to think that it will be — the interstate highway system.

But people who don’t pour asphalt for a living have some other ideas. Portland Transport pointed us to a post on Richard Florida’s blog in which he listed some ideas his readers had on the subject of change-making infrastructure for the future. They included high-speed rail, a universal broadband network, and denser, more walkable communities.

All of which sound pretty good. But it remains to be seen if any of those solutions have the kind of political muscle behind them that the highway lobby has enjoyed for the last half-century.

What do you think the defining infrastructure project of the 21st century will be, or should be? Are such grand projects even possible in the current economic and political climate?

More from around the network: Greater Greater Washington wonders if the  transit benefit for federal employees is a bad thing. Beyond DC discusses why growth doesn’t cause congestion — reliance on cars does. And M-Bike.org says the the Ride of Silence sends the wrong image about biking.