The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a grant of more than $2 million to public television channel Thirteen/WNET in New York for a year-long, multi-platform media initiative designed to call attention to the nation's neglected infrastructure.
Funded through the foundation's Smart Transportation for the 21st Century initiative, Blueprint America will include original documentaries and individual segments produced in partnership with PBS's most prestigious and watched news and public affairs programs, public radio outlets, and a Web site within the PBS site. In addition to reporting on rusting bridges, overcrowded airports, traffic jams, suburban sprawl, compromised water systems, and other infrastructure challenges, the series will look back at the history of infrastructure projects in America as well as at future projects designed to sustain the nation's economic health and competitiveness.
The goal of the initiative is to provide a focal point for information and debate, policy issues, and proposed solutions. In addition, the Blueprint America Web site will serve as a virtual meeting place where citizens can learn about issues related to infrastructure and share their stories, videos, and personal experiences.
Currently, 30 percent of the income of Americans earning $20,000 to $50,000 goes toward transportation costs. "Transportation costs are now low-income families' highest household expense and [are] pricing them out of the American dream," said Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin. "If United States automotive travel continues to increase at expected rates, we'll emit so much greenhouse gas by 2020 that the benefits of low-carbon fuels and higher mileage standards will be completely negated. We must build a smarter road forward, taking these two twenty-first century imperatives into account."