A recent survey conducted by KPMG International confirms what many in the infrastructure industry already knew: current infrastructure investment is insufficient to support economic growth and politics frequently influences infrastructure development in the United States. In this global survey, KPMG surveyed 455 infrastructure executives, including 118 from the United States.
While much of the recent industry press has focused on the lack of available financing as the primary challenge to delivering infrastructure, a vast majority of the respondents indicated that governmental effectiveness and current economic conditions are bigger hurdles than available financing. The respondents expressed specific concerns over what they viewed as an overly politicized process, changing public policy, and excessive government bureaucracy. When asked how governmental agencies could enhance their effectiveness in delivering infrastructure, respondents suggested making infrastructure delivery less influenced by political considerations, increasing transparency in infrastructure spending, and expanding the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Recent examples of PPP projects played out in the political arena include the SH 121 project in Texas and the proposed long-term leases of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Alligator Alley. California, which had pioneered PPPs in the early 1990s, only recently overcame objections from various political stakeholders in the intervening years. We are hopeful that California’s new legislation authorizing design-build and PPPs for Caltrans and regional transportation authorities is a step toward improved transportation infrastructure delivery. Given the current administration’s focus on infrastructure, Congress and the administration may now act to address the long-term needs for a stable means of funding infrastructure development and maintenance, without the political roadblocks.
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