The transcontinental railroad was massively supported by the Federal government, ranging from direct support to land grants to many supporting roles. But it was delivered by the private sector -- and hugely enriched them. We're not building new railroads in 2017, but we do have a similar infrastructure undertaking in our own time:
They're proposing to conduct twelve experimental installations of broadband-over-TV-spectrum. Using the "white spaces" in the spectrum is supposed to be a cost-effective way of reaching people in places with population densities between 2 and 200 people per square mile. That basically describes all but about half a dozen counties in Iowa, though the state is not on Microsoft's list for the test runs. Nobody should choose not to recognize the economic, educational, and cultural impairment that is imposed today by a lack of access to high-speed Internet. We haven't chosen yet to give it the same kind of legal status as other near-universal utilities like electricity and water, but it's not far from being just as essential, at least in economic terms.
We're not always going to get it right, but that's because big projects like this are inherently new, with things we don't know because we haven't encountered them before. Someone's probably going to get rich in the process, and we have to be OK with that.