“Quality, Not Just Quantity, of Infrastructure Needs Attention” (Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2015) has some interesting data. The U.S. has spent, adjusted for deprecation, 52 percent of GDP on “public capital stock” (infrastructure such as roads, bridges, train tracks, etc.) while the Germans have spent just 35 percent of GDP. What results have been achieved? “global executives” rated the German infrastructure superior to that of the U.S.
In other words the Germans are getting substantially better value for each public dollar invested.
Why the constant calls by Americans to put more money into public infrastructure if it turns out this is not one of the things that we can do competitively?
- article comparing the inefficiency of New York’s Tappan Zee construction compared to a much more complex and longer bridge/tunnel between Denmark and Sweden (the original Tappan Zee bridge cost about $ 500 million in today’s dollars (source) while the new one will cost roughly 10 times that amount)
- previous posting on 4X cost increase between building the Longfellow Bridge in Boston and renovating it
- high-speed rail costs in China versus U.S.