Writing for Infrastructure Intelligence, Alex Shanks states that major infrastructure projects are an enabler of growth, rather than a creator, and need to be part of a connected economic growth plan.
He comments that the recent grand opening of the Queensferry Crossing represents a feat of modern engineering – the longest three-span cable-stayed bridge; delivered on time and under budget – providing a vital new artery between Fife and the Lothians.
However, as part of the bigger picture and away from the immediate build benefits, he says the bridge only enables economic growth, it does not create it. As with any major infrastructure project, it mustn’t be seen as a silver bullet to all of our challenges.
He goes on to explain that it will be the businesses and organisations around which infrastructure is built, which creates the long-term economic prosperity for the region and the country. Thus, the government, in collaboration with local and national organisations, should be working together to promote the region, using the bridge as one important selling point among many. Without a strong generational economic plan wrapped around it to attract local, national and international business activity, modern infrastructure is merely an empty vessel.
He cites Spain as a stark reminder of this. Despite, pre-2010, ploughing investment into its infrastructure across the country, poor long-term planning and a lack of a connected strategy to complement economic growth plans, means that projects such as the infamous Ciudad Real Central Airport, lies empty.
He concludes that we should be looking at the future and thinking about how can we reap the rewards modern infrastructure will bring to the region, not just today, but in 50 and 100 years’ time.
For the full article click here.
The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is being planned on this basis. The bored tunnel crossing under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury will offer the improved journeys, new connections, network reliability and economic benefits that only a new, alternative crossing location, away from Dartford, can provide.