In this article strategic planning in transport infrastructure is analysed based on the two concepts coordination and knowledge. It is asked whether the knowledge base necessary for a successful coordination on higher, centralised spatial levels, is possible to access for public sector planners. Decentralisation of strategic planning might lead to more adequate access to information but less probably to successful coordination, since fewer aspects can be coordinated on lower spatial level. This knowledge problem would pose a true dilemma for strategic infrastructure planning.
Currently the USA seems to be taking steps in the direction of decentralisation of transport infrastructure planning while the EU seems to be striving for centralisation. It is suggested that these developments seem understandable, taking the different challenges in the EU and the US into consideration. Both strategies might though run the risk of leading to new government failures.
Openings for spontaneous market orderings might offer an alternative to these measures. Market structures might address the knowledge problem better than centralised public sector planning. A combination of centralised strategic planning and market openings could be an alternative for the EU to combine strategic planning experiences from the US with structures that allow for developed knowledge creation.
This view contrasts against the dominant perspectives in most of the recent research in transport infrastructure planning. Mainstream planning literature treats public sector planning as the expected model for how to organise strategic transport infrastructure planning.
Delft: Delft Universtity of Technology.