International Construction Specialty Conference of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (ICSC) (5th : 2015)

Statistical modeling of public attitudes towards water infrastructure retooling alternatives in shrinking cities Faust, Kasey M.; Abraham, Dulcy M.; Zamenian, Hamed


Many US cities, such as Gary, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan, have and continue to experience substantial population decline. The footprint of the built infrastructure in these cities does not contract with urban decline, but remains relatively unchanged, consequentially resulting in underfunded and underutilized infrastructure. Right sizing the physical footprint for the current and projected population needs has the potential to stabilize or reduce the rising per capita cost of services. While unilateral infrastructure decisions may save time and money, they pose risks, such as inefficient or unsuccessful implementation or unsustainable infrastructure projects, due to public opposition. The objective of this paper is to assess the public attitude concerning water infrastructure management alternatives. In November 2013, a voluntary survey was deployed to residents of 21 medium or large US shrinking cities. Binary probit models were estimated to determine the demographic and geographic variables influencing the support (or opposition) of five water infrastructure management alternatives. The statistical models indicated that different alternatives have different probabilities of support (or opposition) in varied geographic locations. Demographic variables, such as age, employment status, and income, have a propensity towards (or against) select management alternatives. This study demonstrates a method for understanding and incorporating public opinion into the pre-planning process for potentially reducing public opposition. Potential opposition regarding infrastructure management decisions may be alleviated through participatory processes and targeting identified demographic groups for involvement in new infrastructure projects and decisions.

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