Government failure to provide clarity increases confusion around how major projects are selected and funded.
Infrastructure projects are largely publicly funded and owned, but can attract partnerships with the private sector that generate greater innovation, accountability, and long-term performance. The recent engagement of influential business figures — notably Elon Musk and Richard Branson — highlights the potential for attracting private enterprise.
There is a lack of understanding of how infrastructure is provided and maintained at a government level. People just think, ‘Why aren’t things changing?’
Therese McMillan, Chief Planning OfficerLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)
The industry voice
When communities are properly consulted, informed and engaged in dialogue, they become powerful allies, enabling ambitious projects. When Los Angeles County passed Measure M — an estimated US$120 billion sales tax ballot measure designed to fund improvements to its highway and wider transportation network — over 71 percent of local residents voted in favor of the measure.2
Having the civil infrastructure debate openly — and on a human level — can elicit a sense of ownership among local communities and smooth the path to approving and financing new projects, as well as much-needed upgrades. Wider community engagement will also help to generate support for tariff-based payment models and other alternative funding solutions.
It is telling that many of the biggest success stories are occurring in isolation on a local or regional level. Despite plans to overhaul the United States’ infrastructure network at a federal level,3 performance across the country is inconsistent.
We also see a mixed picture when we look at the cities that are judged by our respondents to be performing well in the U.S. and the U.K.
In particular, the varied responses from U.S. participants in the survey highlight this disparity between the best-performing cities and regions and those lagging behind. Across all major areas of infrastructure, the same three cities — New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — are judged as being far ahead in terms of the progress they are making.
It is a similar picture in the U.K. Smaller regional cities, such as Sheffield and Leeds, lag behind the three largest urban centers of London, Birmingham and Manchester on transport, energy, water and resources.
Government-wide initiatives, such as the U.K.’s Construction 20254 strategy, launched in 2013, are not translating evenly across the country.
The US is a big country, and rather a mixed bag. The system is working fairly well in certain areas of the country – across the West Coast, people generally recognize the need to get out and invest in transportation expansions, especially in major metropolitan areas. However, we are not seeing the same level of support on a national or federal level.
Peter Rogoff, Chief Executive Officer Sound Transit