Issues of Climate Change and Its Impacts on the Infrastructure in the Metro East Coast (MEC) Region of the US

Report of the MEC Infrastructure Working Group, Columbia University, March .
Jacob, K. & Zimmerman, R.

The infrastructure of the Metro East Coast region (MEC, with New York City at its core) is the largest, oldest, densest, and busiest in the nation. It serves some 20 million people and built assets exceed $1 trillion. Currently there is considerable stress on the system with key problems identified as: undercapacity, underinvestment, inconsistent management suburban sprawl, and lack of long-term integrated region-wide planning. These problems are exacerbated by fragmentation of governance across competing jurisdictions. Unclear funding mechanisms, spotty economic performance, and deferred infrastructure maintenance are severe stress factors. Spatial and functional inter-connectedness between different types of infrastructure allows failures to cascade through the system - at times even shutting down substantial segments, all at a high societal cost. A special problem is lack of a farsighted solid waste management strategy. Despite these severe stresses, the system somehow manages to deliver essential services to a large population.


Wagner Faculty