Rebooting New England: Seizing the Infrastructure Moment

While plans for massive investments in infrastructure continue to unfold in Washington, the need is clear for a framework to organize projects that will be sustainable, long-lasting, and have the greatest economic payoff in well-defined large regions. The strategy spelled out in the recently completed report Rebooting New England, based on a graduate planning studio at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, may well serve as a model. The report outlines an economic development strategy for New England’s bypassed older industrial cities built around a proposed high-performance rail network linking New York and Boston and the region’s mid-sized cities, including New Haven, Hartford, Providence, Springfield and Worcester.

On June 27, 2017, as part of the Lincoln Institute’s continuing lecture series, Bob Yaro, professor of practice at UPenn and president emeritus of the Regional Plan Association, presented the findings and recommendations of the report, sharing how insights gained from the process could be used to shape President Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure program to achieve the revitalization of bypassed and underperforming cities and regions across the United States.

The recommendations from the Rebooting New England report were based, in part, on the UK’s Northern Powerhouse revitalization initiative for the North of England, which is investing upwards of $100 billion in infrastructure, downtown regeneration, applied research, skills training and governance reforms to revitalize a similar set of older industrial cities in the North of England. Yaro’s studio led a 10-day charrette in Manchester, England in October 2016 with leaders of the NP initiative to learn about the success of these efforts and discuss how they might be adapted to New England.


Bob Yaro has been Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania since 2002. He is also President Emeritus of Regional Plan Association in New York, which he led from 1990-2014. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Texas. In 2005, in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, he led America 2050, which outlined infrastructure and economic development strategies for America’s emerging megaregions.