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Up To Speed

Chicago’s infrastructure trust attempting to change the funding game

Chicago’s infrastructure trust attempting to change the funding game.

The Federal Government has failed to reform how it invests in its infrastructure, local governments are working hard to figure it out on their own. In Chicago this has led to the formation of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) is calling the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Emanuel hopes that the public-private partnership will eventually drive billions of dollars of new investment in the aging cities infrastructure. More from Next City:

Beyond financing public bridges and water systems, the trust must build another sort of infrastructure: That which supports public-private partnerships. In turning to collaborate with the private sector, Chicago has emulated policies more popular around the world than elsewhere in the U.S. Canada, Australia and many countries throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, all have public-private partnerships that help to finance major capital projects.

But in the U.S., the concept is still in its infancy stage. Why the idea has yet to gain traction here has much to do with the reliance of local governments on direct assistance from Washington and tax-free public bonds. The need to be transformative is especially important in Chicago, which in recent years has ceded control of public assets such as its parking meters and tollways, only to face allegations that the sales benefitted companies — and former Mayor Richard Daley, who negotiated the deals — more than they benefited the public.

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The UrbanCincy Podcast

Episode #4: Cincinnati’s Incomplete Subway

On the fourth episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we listen to a talk given by Jake Mecklenborg at the Society for Industrial Archeology 2012 annual conference, which was held this year in Cincinnati.  Mecklenborg provides a history of the Cincinnati Subway project and an explanation of why it was cancelled.  He also sheds light on a number of urban legends that surround the project, such as false rumors that the tunnels are too small for modern rail vehicles or that parts of the tunnel have collapsed.  Finally, he explains how the tunnels could be used for future rail transit plans and even be counted as Cincinnati’s local match toward such a plan. All of this information and more is available in Mecklenborg’s book, Cincinnati’s Incomplete Subway: The Complete History, published in 2010 by The History Press.

On the following episodes of the podcast, we will bring you two additional talks on Cincinnati landmarks given at the SIA conference.  Next week, we’ll bring you Clifford W. Zink‘s talk, Public Works Should Educate Public Taste: John A. Roebling’s Design of the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge. The following week, we’ll bring you Arthur A. Hupp’s talk, Historic Cincinnati Union Terminal: Restoration and Renovation Master Plan.

View Jake Mecklenborg’s Presentation:

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