Built to Last: Planning and Funding Resilient Infrastructure

When the federal government spends billions of dollars on transportation, water, and other public infrastructure, the expectation is that these projects are being built to last. But over the coming decades, severe weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, and floods are projected to occur more often, challenging the resilience and structural integrity of these projects, particularly those already well beyond their engineered design life. In 2015, Congress passed the FAST Act, which required transportation planners to consider resilience when planning infrastructure projects. But the law provided little guidance on how to do that, and different communities face different challenges from different types of extreme weather and other natural disasters. Given these challenges, what can Congress do to encourage investments in resilient infrastructure?

The RAND Corporation examined ways to prioritize spending of federal funds on infrastructure and how to incorporate resilience in infrastructure planning. In this briefing, Debra Knopman and Sarah Weilant discuss:

  • Current and historical congressional spending on infrastructure
  • Four elements key for building resilience into transportation projects
  • Recommendations for policymakers