US infra ‘lags behind its peers in the developed world’

A report from the Council on Foreign Relations paints a dark picture across the sector but notes growth of PPP model.

Outdated US infrastructure is holding back economic growth while threatening Americans’ safety, leaving them with services far short of those enjoyed by their international peers.

That was the conclusion of the Council on Foreign Relations’ report on the state of US infrastructure, which examined the nation’s performance across a number of infrastructure sectors and had little positive to say.

“The United States generally lags behind its peers in the developed world,” the report stated. “US infrastructure performance suffers from its comparatively low quality, with consequences for businesses, workers, and travellers.”

Only the country’s commercial rail network saw high marks, a similar conclusion to the quadrennial report card issued earlier this year. US transportation, water systems and communications infrastructure all stack up poorly against the rest of the developed world.

A “small but growing” number of projects, the report notes, are being financed as public-private partnerships. But the PPP model is held back by federal tax incentives given to municipal bonds. These incentives lower the cost of financing projects through municipal bonds, leaving the PPP market in the US behind those in European countries.

“The United States lacks a culture of private ownership of major infrastructure, which may pose enduring political barriers to efforts to privatise swaths of the transportation system and public utilities,” the CFR report adds.