Credit: Noah Kalina
Launched during Capitol Hill's debate over the multibillion-dollar stimulus package, The Infrastructurist both reflects and informs a nation grappling with the opportunities presented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "We don't often have a chance to put in place a foundational set of structures," says editor Jebediah Reed.
wasn’t exactly “shovel-ready” last winter, when Congress was debating the finer points of what would become the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but it sure was close. In February, the stimulus package became law—putting the country’s long-neglected bridges, highways, and transportation systems center stage—and the blog, a clearinghouse for all things infrastructure, launched the same month, just weeks after its conception. Publishers Alexander Jutkowitz and Mitch Stoller, who also run the media firm Group SJR, asked journalist Jebediah Reed to take the reins. Under his guidance, the site has grown quickly and steadily, getting nearly 150,000 unique visitors in August.
“We wanted to create a place with some personality, where people can engage in the discussion of what kinds of structures we should be reimagining for our country’s cities and transportation networks,” explains Reed. Formerly on the politics and media beat at Radar magazine, Reed has a knack for decoding the technical snarls and murky policy that come with infrastructure territory. For architects and urban planners, the site is a clear-eyed, easy-to-read resource.
Interviews on the site—including chats with Brookings Institution fellow and The Option of Urbanism author Christopher Leinberger, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase, and former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis—are surprisingly optimistic in a grim economy. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tops The Infrastucturist’s list of dream interviewees, of course, but for the moment Reed is happy that LaHood follows the blog’s Twitter feed.
While the site steers clear of ideology, Reed doesn’t hide his support of certain causes—like high-speed rail. “[It’s] a defining issue for how Americans think about cities and how our cities will evolve in the next century,” he says. “I get excited thinking about what could be if we do it right.”