America 2050 Update: August 8, 2007

In This Issue:
  • Introduction
  • Minnesota Bridge Collapse Underscores National Infrastructure Deficit
  • America 2050 participates in the Rockefeller Foundation Global Urban Summit
  • National Roundtable on Surface Transportation - Final Report Now Available
  • Save the Date - Research Seminar on Megaregions
  • Check the Website:


America 2050 is a national initiative to prepare the nation for its rapid projected growth in the 21st century. To do so, we are developing a physical framework for growth that anticipates the challenges of rapid population growth, climate change, mobility, and ensuring national prosperity in a changing global economy.

A major focus of America 2050 is the emergence of megaregions - large networks of metropolitan areas, where most of America's growth by mid-century will take place - and how to organize infrastructure investments, environmental protection, and economic opportunities for all at this new scale.

America 2050 is staffed by Regional Plan Association (RPA), an independent regional planning association in the New York region, and includes a network of partners in megaregions across the country developing long-range strategies for sustainable growth and prosperity. A list of America 2050 partners is available on the America 2050 website at   

You are receiving this newsletter because you participated in an America 2050 conference, event, or expressed interest in the project. To be removed from this email list please click on the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this page.

Minnesota Bridge Collapse Underscores National Infrastructure Deficit - Infrastructure Bank Proposed

August first's collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis offered a stark demonstration of the state of infrastructure in the nation - a topic which normally receives scant attention in the media. It also coincided with proposed legislation by Senate Banking Chairman, Christopher Dodd (D-CT) to establish a national infrastructure bank with $60 billion credit bonding capacity to fund publicly held projects.  Cosponsored by Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska, state and local authorities could apply to the bank to fund new road construction or repairs, mass transit networks, bridges, drinking and wastewater systems.  Projects will need to cost a minimum of $75 million to qualify.  The legislation could also help facilitate public-private partnerships for public authorities seeking private capital.

The legislation seeks to fill the funding gap to repair and modernize aging infrastructure projects across the nation. As summarized by the act's authors, these gaps include:

  • An estimated $21.8 billion annual need over 20 years to improve operational capacity of transit systems (Federal Transit Administration).
  • $131.7 billion and $9.4 billion annually for 20 years to fix "deficient" roads and bridges, respectively (Federal Highway Administration).
  • $151 billion and $390 billion annually for 20 years to repair obsolete drinking water and wastewater systems, respectively (Environmental Protection Agency).

For more information on the proposed legislation, click here (PDF 2MB).

The Rockefeller Foundation Global Urban Summit - New Papers

From July 8-13, Regional Plan Association hosted an intensive workshop on America 2050 as part of the Rockefeller Foundation's month-long global urban summit, Innovations for an Urban World at their conference center in Bellagio, Italy. The America 2050 workshop convened a small group of distinguished elected officials, planning practitioners, and business leaders who identified steps toward creating a long-term physical and policy framework for America's future growth and development.

In preparation for the Summit, RPA prepared and commissioned a series of framing papers on various aspects of the project. These papers can be downloaded from the America 2050 website here.

The papers include:

1808-1909-2008: National Planning for America by Robert Fishman (PDF 1.4MB)

Economic and Equity Frameworks for Megaregions by Christopher Jones (PDF 276K)

Policy Options for Climate Change Mitigation by Amber Mahone (PDF 292K)

Land Development and Growth Management in the United States: Considerations at the Megaregion Scale by Thomas Wright (PDF 1.3MB)

A Land and Resources Conservation Agenda for the United States by Frederick Steiner and Robert Yaro (PDF 580K)

A Transportation Strategy for 21st Century America by Petra Todorovich (PDF 180K)

Coming out of the workshop, participants identified three categories of follow-up actions for the America 2050 initiative.

1. Create a long-range framework for growth for America that underscores the need to make major investments in the infrastructure systems that support economic growth (transportation networks, the built environment, preserved landscapes and environmental resources) and the major transition that must take place to a new, low-carbon economy. This long-term framework will be presented in a discussion document, tentatively titled, the America 2050 Framework for Growth, and used to launch a national dialogue about the direction of America's growth in metropolitan areas and megaregions across the nation.

2. National Policy Reform: Advance policy reforms at the national level in key areas to better prepare the nation for long term growth, sustainability, and prosperity. Efforts will start with reforming national transportation legislation when SAFETEA-LU expires in 2009.

3. Megaregion Strategies: Working with local and national partners, the America 2050 initiative will convene stakeholders in megaregions across the country to develop regional growth strategies at the convergence of the three "Es" (Economy, Environment, and Equity).  These efforts will review and add input to the America 2050 Framework for Growth, and develop their own bottom-up strategies for prosperity, equity and sustainability in their megaregions.

As we prepare the draft America 2050 Framework for Growth, RPA will be in touch with its partners through this list to seek input on some of the key ideas and recommendations.
We are currently cultivating partners in metropolitan areas and megaregions across the country to convene leaders to discuss long-term growth strategies in their regions. To link to the America 2050 initiative and find other America 2050 partners in your area, contact America 2050 project director at

National Roundtable on Surface Transportation - Final Report Now Available

In February 2007, Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy hosted the National Roundtable on Surface Transportation at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The Roundtable brought together leaders in transportation, land use, and the private sector to explore reform proposals to national transportation policy.

Current national transportation legislation, SAFETEA-LU of 2005, is best known for supporting wasteful projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere" and for having as many as 6,000 earmarks -- the local projects that congress recently targeted for greater disclosure in the ethics and lobbying reform bill.  When it expires in September 2009, policy experts across the political spectrum agree that a new model for is needed to align transportation policy with broader goals of supporting national mobility, business competitiveness, and environmental sustainability and/or energy security. A clear recommendation at the National Roundtable was that a strong national purpose should shape the transportation program, and that performance criteria and metrics should be used to evaluate projects receiving federal funds against these criteria.

The final report of the Roundtable is now available, containing discussion papers by Michael Meyer of Georgia Tech, Gary Maring of Cambridge Systematics and Mortimer Downey III, as well as a summary of discussions. The report can be downloaded from the America 2050 website at:

Save the Date - America 2050 Research Seminar April 2 - 4, 2008

From April 2-4, 2008 Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy will host an America 2050 research seminar in Healdsburg, California. Open to a limited number of scholars, the seminar will review new research in three major areas:

  • Methodology and mapping of megaregions in the United States.
  • Comparative and descriptive studies of international megaregions, with an emphasis on Southeast Asia.
  • Implications of climate change policies at the megaregion scale.

RPA and Lincoln will issue a request for paper proposals in the month of August, which will be posted to the America 2050 website and distributed to this email list.

Check the Website:

Speaking of the website, since its initial launch in 2006, the America 2050 website has undergone a design change to a weblog format, which allows its authors to make changes on a more frequent basis and provides easy access to archived entries. Please check the website regularly for updates about the project, or if you use Firefox or a similar web browser, you can subscribe to the America 2050 RSS feed (a system which notifies you when changes have been made to the website automatically.) Link to the America 2050 Newsfeed at

America 2050 Update
Edited by Petra Todorovich
Director, America 2050
212-253-2727 x322