The Obama administration plans infrastructure investment as part of the economic stimulus package. Rather than simply rebuilding and expanding current infrastructure, I suggest that some investment be directed toward innovative community engineering.
There are many communities suffering degenerating economies due to changes in the local and global market place. I suggest a plan to revitalize some of these communities and at the same time provide new ways to implement progress for all communities nationwide.
I propose the incoming administration initiate a federal program to fund experimental communities around the country in economically depressed areas.
The program seeks communities that volunteer to be rebuilt using innovative community planning, technology and engineering to produce cities of the future today. The cities or towns that volunteer for the program must agree that the entire community submits to eminent domain rules where existing structures and infrastructures might potentially be demolished and other structures built using advanced planning and engineering technologies.
Some goals of the program should include:
- To implement a project plan to create new opportunities for businesses and workers for sustainable economic progress into the future
- To minimize cost of the project and maximize benefit to the community
- To minimize impact on local businesses and property owners while maintaining the goals of the project to implement innovative change
- To maximize green space and minimize paved over real estate
- To maximize energy efficiency and minimize undesirable environmental impact
- To foster secure and healthful living environments
- Local governments must be integral participants in the planning process
- Local businesses and workers must be utilized to build, manage and operate the project to the greatest extent possible
- The project design should pay for itself as much as possible through resultant increases in tax revenue by a revitalized economy.
These cities and towns would become tourist attractions. They would also provide models for other communities demonstrating innovations that work and perhaps some that don't work.
The program introduces a constructive way to test and implement community improvement projects while minimizing the risk of massive failures like we have seen in other infrastructure projects such as the Boston tunnel project or the New Orleans levee project.