Abstract Recent literature has given extensive treatment to the infrastructure problems in U.S., including that faced by our transportation facilities. The thrust of this paper is that such problems are often the result of a stalemate in the policy-making process. Three cases are described to illustrate this stalemate: (1) Pennsylvania DOT in the later 1970s; (2) locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways; and (3) the Interstate Highway System and related policies on vehicular size, payloads, and user charges. Drawing from these cases, a simple model of infrastructure investment process is presented. Key inputs to this process are improved management, high ethical standards, greater attention to public perception, and creative involvement in the political process.