Wednesday, May 18, 2011

U.S. lags other nations on infrastructure

While I was taking a few days off, an interesting report came out from the national Urban Land Institute  and Ernst & Young. "Infrastructure 2011: A strategic priority" details how the U.S. is falling farther and farther behind other countries. [Sorry, but it looks as if blogger is refusing to embed links today. Visit; the report is on its homepage.] It also analyzes Charlotte's situation (on Page 51), saying, "But the grand plan hit the skids in late 2010 when the regional transit agency tabled two projects — a BRT [bus rapid transit] corridor and a $450 million airport streetcar line — while sending two others, a $1.2 billion extension of the existing light-rail route and a new $375 million commuter-rail corridor, into underfunded limbo."

Looking globally, the report says that “Canada and Australia have leapfrogged the United States in confronting aging and crumbling networks, as well as employing public/private partnerships."  Here's a quote from from the Executive Summary: "The United States notably continues to lag its global competition – laboring without a national infrastructure plan, lacking political consensus, and contending with severe federal, state, and local budget deficits that limit options. Some metropolitan areas appear better positioned when they can forge plans and pool resources for new transit lines and road systems across multiple jurisdictions."

The Washington Post report on the study includes this tidbit: "The report envisions a time when, like Detroit, U.S. cities may opt to abandon services in some districts and when lightly used blacktopped rural roads would be allowed to return to nature."


Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

As far as regional transit is concerned, I think we should make use of the existing Norfolk Southern right of way to run a commuter line between Uptown, the Airport, Belmont, Cramerton, Lowell, and Gastonia.

It would ease congestion on I-85 and forgo the immediate need for a street car from Uptown to the airport. (Not to mention save the traffic headache that would result from laying rail on Wilkinson Blvd.)

Anonymous said...

$57,000 is added to the national debt each second. Infrastructure will only get worse. We are on an unsustainable path. Hold on tight for the default. Should be quite the wake-up for those who have spent their lives living off the government.

Anonymous said...

The recovery and reinvestment act was supposed to help this. Unfortunately, more money ended up going to unions than infrastructure. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

This is no surprise. The American Society of Civil Engineers has been sounding this alarm for the better part of a decade or more [disclaimer: I am a member of ASCE]:

Notwithstanding that we had no means to PAY for the $800B stimulus bill, only about $50B of the total funding went to transportation infrastructure. Had, say, $200B or $300B, of the ARRA funding gone to transportation infrastructure we could have made a one-time dent in the problems that ULI and ASCE mention. It would not have cured the structural, political, or procedural problems that caused us to get into the mess we're in, but it would have at least been a one-time infusion to fix past mistakes.

Unfortunately, as Herman Cain likes to say, we're focusing on the wrong problem. We're trying to get pie-in-the-sky solutions -- green energy, high(er) speed rail, etc. -- rather than the old-school, mundane things like fixing bridges, creating more and better transportation networks (of all modes), and replacing sewers and water pipes.

Anonymous said...

People complain that the City is going to spend $12 million to build a starter streetcar line with daily ridership less than 7,000.

Well, NCDOT is going to spend $93 million to widen US-158 in northeastern part of the state, when that 2-lane road carries between 2,000 and 7,000 daily vehicles.

7,000 vehicles is less than half what East Boulevard carries, and that street was reduced in lanes, not widened. 7,000 is also one quarter of what South Boulevard carries, parallel to the light rail line.

Seems to me there is as much, if not more, waste out there for highways, than there is for transit. But it's only a "boondoggle" when you don't see yourself gaining from the investment.

Anonymous said...

Of course the US is falling behind. There's no money to fix it. Why? Gotta keep them entitlements coming. The single moms on welfare are having more kids; got to give them more money. The schools are awful, and there are hundreds of bureaucrats sitting around with nothing to do. Got to give them bigger salaries and bonuses, so the schools need more money. You need highways in Charlotte built or expanded? Sorry, we MUST build those outer loops around Tarboro, Pembroke and Elizabeth City first.

As long as we continue to elect politicians (of both parties) that have priorities as messed up as these, we'll continue to fall further behind.

Anonymous said...

Our lack of infrastructure is causing the US to become a 3rd world country behind Europe and Asia.

We don't spend enough money on infrastructure because we waste it all on military pork projects. We could easily cut close to a half TRILLION a year from military spending yet still outspend the next highest spender, China, MORE than two to one.