"...infrastructure should be defined not by what it looks like, and not by who designs it or who pays for it, and not by who builds it or actually uses it. It should be defined by whom it is meant to serve. For all its seemingly disparate parts, infrastructure comprises those elements in a metropolitan region's physical landscape that are meant to serve the public--or rather, the sometimes competing, sometimes overlapping, and sometimes wholly discontinuous publics that populate today's American metropolitan areas and are critical to the growth of our country."
Yes, yes and yes. This New Republic Article (subscription required to get beyond the first page) makes most of the talking points for the post-Minneapolis "rotting infrastructure" harangue, but with enough erudition and restrained anger to be convincing, even inspiring. Good job, Sarah Williams Goldhagen. Even the comments afterwards (mostly) continue the argument in a sane and rational manner. I'm going to start my own harangue here, but Goldhagen is obliquely making the same point I've been trying to drive home-- that infrastructure in now the primary mode of public space and spending, and that it's resources as an urban collector are poorly exploited (if at all). What this article points out is that we have underbuilt and undermaintained consistently over the last few decades, while veritably pouring money into private-public developments like arenas and "town centers," developments that would probably have come to bear with our without government support.
Who will speak for the aqueducts, for the aqueducts have no lips? Um, me.