Management & Operations

Report shows U.S. lags in urban infrastructure

Posted on May 10, 2007

A report co-published by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young, offering a comprehensive look at the status of current and planned infrastructure investment worldwide, was released this week at ULI's Spring Council Forum in Chicago. The report, Infrastructure 2007: A Global Perspective, points to relatively low U.S. investment in virtually all aspects of mobility-related infrastructure, — airports, public transit, railway systems, roads and bridges — calling the situation an "emerging crisis." The varied attitudes toward and approaches to infrastructure investment are reflected in different data provided in the report, such as, Japan having about 1,200 miles of high-speed rail, with plans to build about 180 more miles by 2020; China's plans to build more than 1,500 miles of high-speed rail by 2020; and the U.S. having about 180 miles, but is currently building none. Numerous worldwide trends and issues are discussed in the report, including:

  • Australia, the United Kingdom, other countries in Western Europe and Canada are far ahead of the United States in using private financing structures to fund improvements.
  • In America, a "yawning" budget gap swallows initiatives to fund maintenance. Prevalent sprawl, poor planning and car dependence pose ever greater challenges in meeting future needs. Issues and trends specific to the U.S.:
  • Reluctance to raise the federal gas tax threatens the viability of the Highway Trust Fund, now on course for insolvency by 2009.
  • Most new U.S. highways will be constructed as toll roads; states will finance them through bond issues and private concessions. The report is available on ULI's Website at www.uli.org/reports/i18.
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