Syndicated columnist Neal Peirce's article this week calls attention to that which the presidential debates have studiously ignored to date: the challenges facing America's metropolitan and megaregions. Despite the fact that over 80 percent of the population resides in metropolitan areas in this country, presidential candidates have largely skirted by the important issues of congestion, failing infrastructure, housing affordability and the quality of the nation's communities.
There was a ray of sunshine on this issue in the last New Hampshire debate, as Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico insisted on the need for "a transportation policy that doesn't just build more highways. We have to have commuter rail, light rail, open spaces. We got to have land use policies where we improve people's quality of life." Sadly, the rest of you failed to respond.Peirce highlights the America 2050 platform, as well as the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program (www.brookings.edu/metro.aspx), and Mayor TV, a project of the the Nation magazine and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (www.mayortv.com) as projects bringing attention to the vital challenges faced by America's urbanized places.
And what about infrastructure? Falling down bridges, deteriorating highways, aging dams, failing water systems in the face of rising pockets of severe drought -- and you would-be chief executives hardly mention the topic? Let's get real! How do we rebuild a greener, safer, more economically competitive America, focused on the metros where most of us live? Where's the new federal-state-local partnership to make it happen?