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Urban Infrastructure: The Need for Speed in Transportation Project Planning and Delivery?

Authors: Shoshanna Saxe, University of Toronto, Matti Siemiatycki*,
Topics: Transportation Geography
Keywords: Infrastructure, Project Planning, Delay
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

High quality infrastructure systems are vital for supporting economic activity and are generally considered as a critical factor for the welfare and well-being of cities and their inhabitants. Nevertheless, there is growing frustration that it takes an exceedingly long time to deliver major infrastructure projects, with narratives about delays becoming a significant feature of the public and policy discourse on the current state of urban infrastructure. Against this backdrop, this paper investigates the timelines of large transportation infrastructure delivery, from first proposal to construction and opening in London, UK and Toronto, Canada. The goal of the paper is to identify both how long it takes projects to go from idea to delivery and the relative time of different stages in the delivery process. The paper shows that major urban transportation projects often take decades to plan and build, with key delays due to the length of time it takes to reach political consensus on project priorities and organize project funding. Increasing pressures to speed up infrastructure decision-making processes have gone hand in hand with a trend towards privatization, deregulation, and financialization of infrastructure systems. This work contributes to two ongoing discussions around the speed and effectiveness of infrastructure delivery, one that argues infrastructure moves too slowly and major efforts are needed to speed up delivery and a counterpoint that sound infrastructure planning requires time for due diligence and pubic deliberation and care should be taken when significantly expediting the delivery process.

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