America 2050 Update: March 12, 2009

In This Update:

  • Upcoming Megaregion Forums in Atlanta, GA and ChampionsGate, Florida
  • Getting the Federal Government to Do "the Math"
  • Two New America 2050 Papers on Megaregions and Equity  
  • About America 2050

Upcoming Megaregion Forums in Atlanta, GA and ChampionsGate, Florida 

As part of its Rebuilding and Renewing America series, America 2050 will host two upcoming forums in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion and the Florida Megaregion. The first of the two, "The Case for a National Infrastructure Policy: The Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion in the Global Economy" will take place on Monday, March 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Stakeholders, experts, government, business, and civic leaders from Birmingham, Alabama to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina are invited to attend and set priorities for a national infrastructure policy and specific investments in transportation, energy and water infrastructure in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion. You can register by emailing the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development at Or visit the conference website.


Confirmed speakers include: Ray Christman, President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Portland, Oregon, John Horsley, Executive Director of AASHTO, William Millar, Executive Director of the American Public Transportation Association, Rebecca Wodder, President of American Waters, and Pat McCrory, Mayor of the City of Charlotte.


On May 6-8 in ChampionsGate, Florida, near Orlando, America 2050 is partnering with the Tampa Bay Partnership, Central Florida Partnership, and a committee of Regional Planning Councils and other organizations from across the Florida megaregion for the 2009 Super Regional Leadership Conference. Spanning two days, the conference will focus on May 7 on regional collaboration in the Tampa Bay and Central Florida "super region" and on May 8 on the larger Florida Megaregion and its role in setting priorities for a national infrastructure plan.  Visit the Super Regional Leadership Conference website here.


Getting the Federal Government to do "the Math"

A new America 2050 paper by Polly Trottenberg of Building America's Future focuses on the challenge of shifting toward a data-driven and performance based system for federal decision-making in transportation investments. The paper, "Federal Decision-Making in Transportation Investments: Getting the Federal Government to do 'the Math'," observes that the U.S. is noteworthy for the lack of goal-based criteria or performance measures in its infrastructure programs and at a more basic level, our extremely poor data collection on transportation at the federal, state and municipal levels. With growing consensus among the transportation community that the next transportation bill should include strong national goals and ways to evaluate performance against those goals, our data collection shortcomings are noteworthy.


Informed by an ideologically diverse focus group of current and past Congressional staffers, transportation experts and statisticians, the paper makes recommendations on how to better inform and motivate members of Congress and administration officials to integrate data and analysis into the next surface transportation bill. 


This paper is the second in a series of three papers commissioned for America 2050's recent workshop, "Envisioning a Trans-American Network."


Two New America 2050 Papers on Megaregions and Equity

America 2050 has released two new papers exploring the issue of equity at the megaregion scale.  Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a growing regional equity movement has recognized the consequences of urban sprawl and regional causes of poverty and successfully built political power at the scale of metropolitan region. Now, with increasing attention to social and economic factors at the megaregion scale, these papers ask whether equity proponents must shift their attention outward and upward.


The first, Fractures and Faultlines: Growth and Equity in California's Megaregions, by Chris Benner of UC Davis and Manuel Pastor of USC, asks: are problems of inequality are being caused and the scale of the megaregion, and if so, can equity issues be effectively addressed at the megaregion scale? To answer these questions, the authors present a quantitative analysis of megaregion patterns of economic growth and inequality in California, and identify certain issues, such as infrastructure and the environment, that would benefit from megaregion-scale alliances, as a complement to comprehensive equity organizing at the metropolitan scale.

The second paper, The Quest for Megaregional Equity: The Gulf Coast and Beyond by Angela Glover Blackwell and Dominique Duval-Diop of PolicyLink is set in the context of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which dramatically swept away the veil obscuring severe poverty and inequities in the Gulf Coast and echoed in regions across America. The authors observe that the recovery from this disaster of megaregion-scale impacts failed to seize upon the opportunity to craft more effective megaregion-scale strategies for infrastructure planning, affordable housing, health, education, and transportation issues that could address the inequities reflected in the entire Gulf Coast.  In response, the authors offer seven principles for a megaregion-scale equity approach