Anyone who has crept along the 405, experienced brownouts or navigated through congestion at LAX understands the impacts aging infrastructure can have on the quality of our lives, our productivity and even our state of mind.
As business and community leaders in a global city like Los Angeles, we have a larger responsibility to work with the government and do something about it – to pursue solutions that enhance our competitiveness and boost prosperity for everyone. This includes modernizing infrastructure to drive the economic growth that seeds new jobs and business opportunities, increases efficiency and prepares us for changes ahead.
However, we can no longer rely on traditional channels. We must step up. Given the times we live in, new approaches and alliances are required.
As an example, cities and states shoulder about three-quarters of all annual infrastructure spending, and President Trump’s $1.5 trillion national infrastructure proposal looks to extend that burden on local jurisdictions, with only $200 billion in new federal spending envisioned. Congress is unlikely to consider this legislation until 2019.
Instead, Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions are pressing ahead and leveraging creative approaches, including public-private partnerships, to upgrade transportation and other public infrastructure assets. Measure M, overwhelmingly approved by L.A. County voters in 2016, is funding improvements to regional mobility that, among other benefits, might even get us home 15 minutes earlier at night to read to our kids.
But it goes beyond the need for more money.
We’re challenged by the mind-numbing pace of change that includes greater urbanization, demographic shifts, climate change and technology that will produce new stresses on our city.
Ten years ago, who would have thought we’d routinely order transportation with a few swipes on our smartphones. Or that we’d be using 3D printers to produce components for modular housing or a bridge.
Or that some cities would be smarter than others, with street lights, traffic signals, available parking spots and other urban systems all connected.
Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, with 3 million more moving in each week. In 30 years, that number is expected to jump to 70 percent. How do we go about feeding, housing, moving or employing this population surge over the course of just one generation? What will cities in 30 years even look like? What will L.A. look like?
We don’t have to look far to consider how technology, such as autonomous vehicles, will change our communities. They are coming faster than we anticipate.