Over half a century ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which kicked off construction of the nation’s first interstate highway system. Designed to link America’s major cities, the interstate plan proved a huge undertaking that spanned 40,000 miles and several decades. And it was funded almost entirely by the federal government, with state governments covering the remaining 10% of costs.
Today, we rarely see public works projects of this scale, in part because the government is either reluctant or unable to fund such large and ambitious plans with public dollars. This means we need to explore new models for financing and managing these efforts.