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Why Does Infrastructure Cost So Much In America?

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

A roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal is expected to be on the way.

But hold your applause, because the bill has a long way to go before it reaches President Biden’s desk. And American infrastructure is up against one very significant hurdle. It’s more expensive to build here than almost any other country in the world. And costs keep going up. The same mile of highway that cost $8 million to build in the 1960s rose to $30 million by the 1990s. Why?

“The headline is, we’re not sure,” Yale professor Zachary Liscow says. “We’ve gotten richer, and richer people demand more expensive things.”

“There’s a lot of micromanagement,” transit researcher Alon Levy says. “The U.S. perceives itself as the center of the universe.”

Today, On Point: The nation’s infrastructure and bringing down the cost of construction.


Jerusalem Demsas, policy reporter at Vox. (@JerusalemDemsas)

Zachary Liscow, Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Co-author of the paper “Can America Reduce Highway Spending? Evidence from the States?” (@ZLiscow)

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Alon Levy, transit researcher and Fellow at the NYU Marron Institute. (@alon_levy)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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