Monday, July 5, 2010

Infrastructure as Key to Our Future: Let's Get Serious about Infrastructure Initiatives

On June 22, 2010 Governor Bob Holden moderated a panel discussion focusing on transportation infrastructure in Missouri. The event, Transportation: Investing in the Future of the St. Louis Region, was a joint presentation by AGC of St. Louis, St. Louis RCGA and ULI St. Louis.

A quote from ULI about this issue sets the stage for its serious consideration, which is deeply connected to concerns about jobs, energy, the economy, and more.
“Investing in infrastructure—done well and strategically—can help ensure increasing prosperity and the rising standards of living that Americans have come to expect. Many countries around the world—China, India, and those in Europe—understand the infrastructure imperative and are working to build the transportation, water, and energy systems that will grow their economies for future generations. The United States must find the leadership, will, and resources to do the same.”
-Infrastructure 2010, Investment Imperative, The Urban Land Institute

Governor Holden opened the panel with a few salient remarks, which are included below.

As you consider this topic, we invite you to share with us your understanding of, questions about, or concerns over the infrastructure issue in Missouri and the Midwest: Do you agree with the experts who argue that we are "falling behind global competitors" and that the United States "struggles to gain traction in planning and building the critical infrastructure investments that are necessary to ensure future economic growth and support a rapidly expanding population"?

And if so, what should we be doing about it?

“Long term, which is becoming shorter all the time, how our community, region, and nation fund education and infrastructure development will determine our nation’s fate in this global economy.

As we gather today, headlines report:

National jobs study indicates St. Louis may be in trouble.”

“Taxed Enough Already? Maybe Not!”

In the second article, which ran in USA Today data indicated that the total American tax burden in 2009 fell to its lowest level since 1950.

Here in Missouri, we have the 6th largest highway system in the nation, but one of the lowest gas taxes (44th). It took us 15 years to add a runway to Lambert, while other nations are building multiple airports in less time.

Transportation, and how we fund and prioritize those projects related to our infrastructure development, is a key topic in today’s global economy.

Today, when we talk about infrastructure it is not for the purpose of trying to figure out how the West side can best the East side of the River, or how St. Louis can stay ahead Kansas City. The conversation that serves us best is about how we compete in a global economy, and about how we can best maintain, and in some cases, regain the dominance of the world’s economy.

We don’t do it by “standing pat.”

We must explain and in many cases convince the citizens of our region that to become a viable economic region, we must embark on a major infrastructure renewal. If we do not do this, there is little question of what lies ahead.

We are now - today - in a global economy. Our competition comes from all countries of the world.

China spent 8 billion on high speed rail in 2008, and will have 42 high speed lines in operation by 2012. They are on course to build 100 new airports in the next 10 years. News stories abound about how China is taking the lead in new energy technology, green cities, and energy development.

Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brazil, and the European Union are all making massive new investments in infrastructure and energy technologies.

What we do with our roads, rails, waterways, and airways, and in energy development will determine the legacy we leave our children. Will that legacy be similar to the one left to us by the hard working, forward thinking effort of our parents and our grandparents? Or will it be something else altogether?

For more resources about this important topic, please visit:

The Urban Land Institute, Infrastructure 2010

St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association

ULI St. Louis