USA Today Features Levine Interview On Transportation Infrastructure

USA Today Features Levine Interview On Transportation Infrastructure

Jonathan Levine, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, was quoted in USA Today from a March 10 interview on Public Radio International (PRI) where he points out the problems with transportation infrastructure and accessibility in the United States.

When asked about the leaders in transportation infrastructure, Levine, a transportation expert, states that “Sweden is the world’s leader in traffic safety while still providing a high level of accessibility. I’m sorry to say the United States is really quite far down the list.”

The countries that follow Sweden are Norway, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Denmark. “These are all countries that have very highly developed infrastructures but there’s a really important aspect to their transportation safety,” says Levine. “That is, they provide a whole lot more transportation choices than we do in the United States.”

Levine comments that these countries also share another trait: They are cultures that accept the role of government in society. “In the United States, we have a bit of a tense role between government and the market or government and society. In these [European] countries, there’s much more of a taken-for-granted attitude that government is part and parcel of society and government is able to take actions that are need to support markets, to support private property and in general to support society.”

There are other countries that Levine admires, but with a caveat. “Sometimes I look longingly at other countries. When China wants to develop for example, high speed rail, they just develop high speed rail. They’re not built around a system of checks and balances, of competing levels of government at state, federal, local and metropolitan levels.” Levine is not interested in giving up America’s democratic institutions, but he says it makes investment in infrastructure beholden to politics.