Infrastructure 2011 Report Warns of Strain on U.S. Roads and Cities

A new Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young joint report warns that global infrastructure investment is leaving the U.S. behind.

In the wake of the recession, a new global report from ULI, and Ernst & Young finds that:
  • Emerging markets have committed to fulfilling infrastructure agendas and view projects as “essential for sustaining or enhancing living standards in an increasingly competitive global marketplace”
  • Despite fiscal constraints, Denver, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Seattle and Salt Lake City have successfully moved projects forward
  • U.S. is not alone on the global stage in coming to grips with infrastructure ambitions and soberly assessing what can be done
  • More established U.S. cities (Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco) were forced to retrench on new projects and make triage decisions on repairs that include service cuts and fare increases.
America’s infrastructure investments – levels of which have long trailed behind those of Asia and Europe – will be further stifled this year by pressures to cut federal spending and reduce the deficit, compelling cities to be evermore creative and resourceful in securing partnerships to start or continue infrastructure projects, according to Infrastructure 2011: A Strategic Priority. The report, released today by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young, emphasizes the challenge faced by many urban areas trying to provide adequate transportation and other infrastructure services for their residents, workers and businesses.

Outside of the United States, “in most of the developed world and in many emerging markets, countries have committed to fulfilling infrastructure agendas as essential for sustaining or enhancing living standards in an increasingly competitive global marketplace,” says the report, which looks at infrastructure investments on six continents. (Expenditures for global infrastructure requirements over the next 25 years are currently estimated at $50 trillion.) Among the countries in which infrastructure is a top priority:
  • The UK -- despite an austerity budget -- has committed $326 billion over the next five years for projects related to rail, energy production and broadband access;                                                                                     
  • France, Germany and Spain continue to build high-speed rail and freight networks between cities and as extended cross-border links;                                                                                                                              
  • Australia is focusing on port expansion, rail rebuilding, and traffic congestion relief projects;                             
  • China is funding a host of wide-ranging infrastructure programs, including completion of a 10,000-mile high-speed rail network by 2020. Other projects include  new airports, ports and transit systems, all of which contribute to China’s standing as the world’s second-largest economy;                                                                                
  • India is actively seeking private financing for desperately needed infrastructure to sustain growth and meet its economic potential; and                                           
  • Brazil is pushing ahead with road, transit and water projects to accommodate its fast-growing economy, and to prepare for upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics games

"Whether in countries with mature economies or in emerging markets, government and business leaders have found a way to develop and execute on well-established national infrastructure policies and programs," comments Malcolm Bairstow, Ernst & Young's Global Leader of Infrastructure and Construction.  "Many of these countries' long-term view of the future economic importance of sound infrastructure planning has allowed them to be both strategic and more efficient in developing and directing funding for major projects."

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Source: Urban Land Institute