When Thinking About Infrastructure, Focus on Accessibility

Reihan Salam talks about infrastructure, and cites our Access Across America work.
When Thinking About Infrastructure, Focus on Accessibility :

“… David Levinson, a transportation economist at the University of Minnesota, has emphasized that one of the key issues in infrastructure investment is improving accessibility, or the ease of reaching valued destinations. One way to improve accessibility is make it easier to traverse long distances, so you can reach a larger number of jobs and consumption opportunities, etc., in a given amount of travel time from home. Another way to improve accessibility is to bunch up jobs and consumption opportunities and homes, i.e., by increasing density. Levinson finds that while accessibility has deteriorated relative to 1990, it has improved relative to 2000. My sense is that the best way to increase accessibility is to focus on implementing peak road-user fees and using the resulting revenue stream to carefully add capacity at bottlenecks, and also to ease local land use regulations that have proven a barrier to increased density in high-productivity regions. These strategies ought to be pursued in tandem. One crude way of putting this is that while we tend to fixate on the ‘hardware’ layer of infrastructure, we should devote more attention to the ‘software’ layer, i.e., the systems governing the allocation of infrastructure resources. Focusing on accessibility rather than infrastructure spending levels as such will get us much closer to tackling the frustrations that plague commuters. “