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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 27, 2011 at 9:30 AM

The viaduct and the American infrastructure crisis || Vote in the poll

As Seattle continues to consider considering how to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Urban Land Institute held its spring conference last week in Phoenix. Among the speakers was Howard Roth of Ernst & Young, who discussed the huge and growing gap in strategic infrastructure between the United States and its competitors.

“China, India and Brazil have all embarked upon strategic infrastructure programs and will invest about $1 trillion each over the next three to five years in high speed rail, new highways, toll roads and urban transit in efforts to improve or solidify their global economic positions over the next few decades and into the future,” he said. The relatively small infrastructure component of the Obama stimulus, $20 billion, peaked in 2010 and will start trailing off. Even with its austerity program, the United Kingdom will spend $326 billion over the next five years on rail, energy production, and broadband access.

According to an Ernst & Young study, “lack of an ongoing, sustainable and strategic commitment to rebuild and expand its infrastructure will begin to seriously weaken the U.S.’s competitive position in the coming years.” It goes on, “In contrast with its global competition, the United States is lurching along a problematic course–potentially losing additional ground. After more than 30 years of conspicuously underfunding infrastructure and faced with large budget deficits, increasing numbers of national and local leaders have come to recognize and discuss how to deal with evident problems. But a politically fractured government has mustered little appetite to confront the daunting challenges…”

You can download the entire report at:

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/2011_infrastructure_report_settin

g_strategic_priorities/$FILE/Real%20Estate_Infrastructure_2011.pdf

Ironically, the report list Seattle along with Denver, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City as places that “have better success in realizing new transport initiatives with local agencies working together to meet priorities.” Well, we shall see as the new referendum makes the future of a deep-bore tunnel — which would create large numbers of construction jobs and has also been endorsed by the port — questionable.

What do you think?

The future of the tunnelMarket Research

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Pop quiz, Microsoft

Big money says Steve should go

Whose head’s in the cloud?

Comments | More in Infrastructure, Transportation

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