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Dean David Van Slyke on Recently Passed Infrastructure Bill
Reporters looking for expert insight on all issues regarding infrastructure, please see comments from David M. Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and the Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business-Government Policy.
Van Slyke is a leading international expert on public-private partnerships, public sector contracting, contract management, and policy implementation. He can offer insight on various aspects of the new infrastructure bill that was just passed by Congress and will be signed by President Biden soon.
“Our natural tendency is to invest in the infrastructure of yesteryear and to take a redistribution of wealth approach to spreading federal money around without investing in the highest priority areas, the existing facilities that are most at risk, and within communities that are quite dependent for transport and mobility,” said Van Slyke.
“There is too little money for automation and upgrades to systems. The bill’s language uses coded and opaque language around emissions to favor human staffing versus an infrastructure that integrates automated systems under human oversight and control.”
“Right now, there’s an opportunity to think carefully about equity and inclusion with respect to access and mobility in terms of future projects We need to look at the empirical evidence which suggests that high-speed rail is not an efficient or effective option for certain U.S. corridors with respect to emissions reductions,” said Van Slyke.
The bill has set aside $10 billion for rail lines and specifically high-speed rail, even though moving the country to a high-speed line would take much more additional investment.
“As the world faces climate change, what do shovel-ready projects really mean? Right now we need project prioritization. That means using federal money to leverage state and local money and engage private participation through the use of public-private partnerships. We need to integrate projects within regions and across states in order to really improve the investments we need for tomorrow and the future,” said Van Slyke. “This means a fundamental rethinking about how to meet other goals of climate and security risks to infrastructure development and protection.”
But Van Slyke says, “Certain types of infrastructure investments require behavior change and currently lack political will.”
“Finally, we need to fairly pay for infrastructure investments. Too many projects are unfairly subsidized by the many for the few. The razor-thin passage of this bill means we need to consider a wholesale different approach to long-term public support, especially when the last federal gas tax increase was in 1993,” said Van Slyke.
The federal gas tax pays for the federal portion of highways and transit projects. However, the gas tax is the same 18.4 cents a gallon for unleaded when it was raised in 1993. Yet, the cost of building and maintaining roads, bridges, and transit has increased while less gas is used by more fuel-efficient cars.
To arrange an interview with Dean Van Slyke, please reach out to Ellen James Mbuqe at email@example.com or 412-496-0551.
Here are examples of Van Slyke’s commentary on infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships:
- GovExec podcast discussing private/public partnerships
- “What role can government play in fighting climate change?” Spectrum News
- “We Need an Infrastructure Bill for the Future.” (commentary) U.S. News and World Report
- “Trump’s infrastructure plan: How ‘private’ will he go?” (commentary) Politico
- “Politicians fail to see shutdown’s long-term fallout: Brain drain,” (commentary) The Hill
- “How a Trump power play upended the $30 billion Gateway project.” Washington Post
- “Groups Behind Trump Resistance Look To Use Recent Windfall Wisely.” NPR
- “The Coast Guard’s flawed icebreaker plan” (commentary) Politico
- “Commandant says Coast Guard modernizing at fastest pace in decades.” Seattle Times