Large-scale infrastructure lessons
I’m getting very excited about the Olympics. After hours spent online when tickets went on sale at various times during the year, my family and I have been going to a number of events, although few it has to be said where we know much about the sport we’re watching.
Given my new role in Local Partnerships, I’m also acquiring an additional perspective. As large infrastructure projects are very much our core business, I’m beginning to understand the sheer scale of the achievement in delivering the Olympic project. It’s something that local councils, not just in London but wherever Olympic events are being held, have played a significant role.
The scale of the Olympic achievement was brought home to me when I read about another large-scale infrastructure project.
In California, voters approved in 2008 an 800-mile rail network linking San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. The network, its supporters argue, will revolutionise infrastructure in the region with its crowded freeways, provide a major economic boost and create thousands of jobs. So far so good but even before construction has started some serious doubts are emerging.
Costs have spiralled- the current estimate is that it will cost $68bn (4 times the original estimate) and will only cover half the original distance, it won’t be completed until 2035 and the sources of funding have yet to be agreed. Oh, and the planned route goes through several earthquake zones. Needless to say, public scepticism is growing.
So what are the lessons from what I hope are 2 contrasting examples?
We know that the real legacy (and as an avid watcher of Twenty Twelve I hesitate to use the term) in infrastructure investment done well, leads to economic growth. Done badly…..
We also know that they don’t have to be prestige projects to be essential. We are currently working on the Thames Tunnel, a new sewer structure to replace the Victorian originals and protect the Thames - a very important project.
Now back to understanding the rules of hockey!
Andrew Coleman, corporate director, Local Partnerships