Transportation infrastructure for the next century must be dramatically redesigned in response to the critical challenges related to carbon neutrality, sustainability, equity, and resilience. From planning and impact assessment to project delivery, maintenance, operations and reuse, each component and every step of the transportation value chain is ripe for significant transformation. Tomorrow’s infrastructure will be built with carbon-neutral materials that are durable, smart, and energy efficient. Infrastructure designs must be more elastic and easily reconfigurable to take advantage of unused capacity of existing systems, allow for experimentation with new technologies, and be flexible given that infrastructure expansions may be difficult to achieve due to existing constraints. A forward-looking infrastructure system is also multimodal. It fully integrates emerging travel modes and relies on a different fuel mix to reduce or eliminate its carbon footprint.
Renewing the nation’s infrastructure will improve the travel experience, reduce delays, enhance safety, and demonstrate our commitment to an infrastructure befitting an advanced economy. Yet, the value of this infrastructure has reach far beyond its role in enhancing the movement of freight and people. When implemented, the next generation of transportation infrastructure has the potential to revolutionize the nation’s economic vitality and competitiveness while advancing sustainability and equity goals.
The announcement of the establishment of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Infrastructure (ARPA-I) opens extraordinary opportunities to support the transformation of transportation infrastructure for the next century. ARPA-I is a strategic initiative with the power to unleash technological innovations with global impact. The following brief outlines key opportunities to support a vision for ARPA-I. Based on decades of research experience at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, this document focuses primarily on the infrastructure that supports mobility as well as adjacent infrastructures that intersect and/or interact with transportation systems.