Infrastructure Technologies Investments in highway infrastructure have been made continuously throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Such investments have understandably varied over the years in response to need and political and national priorities. For example, in the United States, an extraordinary capital investment in highways during the 1960s and 1970s was undertaken by constructing the interstate highway system and upgrading and constructing many other
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highways. The economic and political climate that permitted such an ambitious construction program has not been replicated before or since. It is difficult to imagine, in today’s economic and political environment, that a project of the magnitude of the interstate highway system would ever be seriously considered. This is because of the prohibitive costs associated with land acquisition and construction and the community and environmental impacts that would result.
It is also important to realize that highways are long-lasting investments that require maintenance and rehabilitation at regular intervals. The legacy of a major capital investment in highway infrastructure is the proportionate maintenance and rehabilitation schedules that will follow. Although there are sometimes compelling reasons to defer maintenance and rehabilitation (including the associated construction costs and the impact of the reconstruction on traffic), such deferral can result in unacceptable losses in mobility and safety as well as more costly rehabilitation later.