These dazzling numbers call for action, and a new signal of intent from President Barack Obama has answered that call. In his 2015 State of the Union Address, the President proposed a six-year infrastructure plan to the tune of USD 478 billion.
- Twenty-first century businesses need twenty-first century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come, President Obama said, referring to a Republican bill to establish the 1,100-mile Keystone pipeline carrying crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico coast, that he later vetoed.
European expertise as restoration driver
The ASCE states that 32% of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 42% of major urban highways are congested. This is a massive issue in view of the USA’s more than four million miles of public roads, with trucks moving some 60% of all goods.
In search of long-lasting solutions, North America is turning to European expertise. EU policymakers have traditionally taken a more expansive approach to long-term transport investments.
- North America will never become anything like the European Union. But we still might learn from Europe’s experience. EU transport policy was designed to promote economically and environmentally efficient, safe and secure transport services within the internal market and beyond. These EU plans have not been entirely successful, but we should look more carefully at what they have attempted, argues Stephen Blank, Special Advisor to the Collaboratory on Energy, Research and Policy at the University of Ottawa, in a recent feature on opencanada.org – Canada’s hub for international affairs.
Combining aesthetics with efficiency
Delays caused by congestion and detours to avoid deficient bridges or poor pavements cost time, fuel and increased emissions. Naturally, modernising the road network is North America’s greatest transport concern. Refurbishing or replacing badly maintained, low-capacity bridges and tunnels is a key driver in this restoration phase.
Axel Emil Christensen, Senior Market Director at Ramboll, highlights projects such as the Queensferry Crossing in Scotland, the Mersey Gateway in the UK and the upcoming Fehmarn Belt tunnel connecting Scandinavia with Continental Europe as reasons that the Americans are looking overseas.
- Western Europe has a strong tradition for designing and constructing major bridges and tunnels. I believe that North America can potentially benefit from our experience within two distinct areas: First, the aesthetics – our designs have excelled because both technical experts and architects are involved. Second, design optimisation – smart resource utilisation in our designs makes our bridges and tunnels cheaper to build, and they’re more sustainable and easier to maintain, he explains.
Ramboll specialists have already been involved in some North American replacement and modernisation projects. If more words are put into action, the ASCE expects accelerating infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy, create 2.7 million jobs, lower CO2 emissions and improve local and regional connectivity.