When it comes to public infrastructure, Americans face a stark policy choice this November. More than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Barack Obama has made investing in infrastructure central to his presidency. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, says little about issues like transportation and housing. When he does, it is to suggest cuts to programs and agencies that provide them.
The current administration encourages cities and states to spend federal money on projects that enhance the public realm. The interstate-highway system often cut neighborhoods in half or separated cities from their waterfronts. Wary of repeating those mistakes, the Department of Transportation has launched a competitive grant program—Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)—that rewards integrating housing with new roads or mass transit so as to maximize benefits and minimize environmental degradation.