Infrastructure – the next big deal?

The Economist reported this article on forthcoming issues gaining momentum:

For the past few years it has been hard to ignore America’s crumbling infrastructure, from the devastating breach of New Orleans’s levees after Hurricane Katrina to the collapse of a big bridge in Minneapolis last summer. In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that $1.6 trillion was needed over five years to bring just the existing infrastructure into good repair. This does not account for future needs. By 2020 freight volumes are projected to be 70% greater than in 1998. By 2050 America’s population is expected to reach 420m, 50% more than in 2000. Much of this growth will take place in metropolitan areas, where the infrastructure is already run down.

How can all this be fixed? In January a national commission on transport policy recommended that the government should invest at least $225 billion each year for the next 50 years. The country is spending less than 40% of that amount today. Yet more important than spending lots of money is spending it in better ways.

There is reason to hope. Beyond the campaign trail, many politicians have made infrastructure a big issue. Mr Obama’s infrastructure bank is a variation on a scheme that Chris Dodd, a Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a Republican, introduced in the Senate last year. (The bill, is still pending.) In the House, Earl Blumenauer has proposed a commission to guide infrastructure investment. Ed Rendell, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Bloomberg, the political juggernauts in Pennsylvania, California and New York City respectively, have launched a coalition to make infrastructure a national priority.

The Economist stated the John McCain has not stated a policy. A quick check on his website did not turn up a statement. If there is one, please let me know.

Mostly Economics began a definition of infrastructure from one point of view which seemed pertinent. I am sure there are better, but this is a start.

I had sometime back read an article by Vinayak Chatterjee of Feedback Ventures where he said let us define infrastructure first, before we build it.

I came across this document in Committee on Infrastructure’s website which attempts to do the same.

It first summarises definition of infrastructure from six different sources and then concludes what all is to be included:

(i) Electricity (including generation, transmission and distribution) and R&M of power stations,
(ii) Non-Conventional Energy (including wind energy and solar energy),
(iii) Water supply and sanitation (including solid waste management, drainage and sewerage repairs for which we the services from this excellent yard drainage contractor) and street lighting,
(iv) Telecommunications,
(v) Road & bridges,
(vi) Ports,
(vii) Inland waterways,
(viii) Airports,
(ix) Railways (including rolling stock and mass transit system),
(x) Irrigation (including watershed development),
(xi) Storage,
(xii) Oil and gas pipeline networks.

And what all it does not include which other sources include (from the table on last page):

Urban services; as street lighting, Solid Waste Management (SWM)
Vehicles, trucks, buses etc.(Road Transport System)
Industrial Park/SEZ
Educational Institutions