The U.S. highway system is an iconic example of civil infrastructure. Yet it also exemplifies the challenges of infrastructure sustainability. The American Society for Civil Engineers gave the American road infrastructure a grade of “D” since the roads “are often crowded, frequently in poor condition, chronically underfunded, and are becoming more dangerous.” In this paper, we seek to understand the intertwined social and technical processes that lead to this unsustainability by examining the U.S. highway system from the perspective of coupled infrastructure systems (CIS), a transdisciplinary framework that aims to analyze governance challenges of shared resources from a dynamic systems perspective. We use highways as a special example of the broader challenge of providing and maintaining the shared infrastructure of all types. Our analysis of historical data concludes that the unsustainability of highways as coupled infrastructure systems can be explained from dysfunctional information feedbacks.
- Coupled infrastructure system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Building and Construction
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality