Many cities across the United States are home to legacy infrastructure systems. These older water, transportation, and communications systems are not only poorly suited to current needs, but they are also nearing (or well past) the end of their usable lives after decades of underinvestment and deferred maintenance.
The motivation for investing in resilience—taking measures to adapt and modernize systems amid rising environmental and social pressures—could not be greater, especially at a local level.
However, local government resources for infrastructure transformation are limited at best. As a result, local leaders are caught in a tug-of-war. On one side are high-priority incremental repairs to keep critical services up-and-running. On the other side is all the up-front planning required to invest in long-term capital projects. Both are costly. Both are necessary. In the coming years, more places will inevitably be confronted with a stark choice: keep making short-term fixes or find the resources to make major upgrades and replacements.
The remainder of this article can be viewed at the Brookings Institution website.