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Infrastructure spending is no miracle cure - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 23 2015

In some circles, infrastructure spending is seen as a miracle cure to lift the economy, if not political fortunes. With rock bottom interest rates, proponents say now is the perfect time to ramp up spending on trains and subways in order to stimulate growth, relieve congestion and boost long-term productivity.

As with most economic strategies, however, the devil is in the execution....You can always find studies to buttress your claims that new infrastructure pays for itself by stimulating the economy and generating jobs during the construction phase while boosting productivity thereafter. But this is hardly true across the board. Does anyone believe the Sheppard subway line has made Toronto’s economy more productive? It’s a sinkhole whose operating costs are a drain on the rest of the transit system.

And what about Pearson Airport’s Terminal 1? It’s a cavernous monster that adds to passenger stress levels while subtracting from their productivity. Speaking of poorly conceived projects, the soon-to-open rail link between Pearson and downtown Toronto appears to rely on overly optimistic ridership projections.

In our infrastructure envy, we decry our subways, roads and commuter trains as second-rate. But proper scale and functionality are far more important than fancy architecture or expensive materials.
Konrad_Yakabuski  infrastructure  politics  debt  second-rate  Keynesian  scaling  functionality  UPX  interest_rates  sinkholes  low-interest  overoptimism 
april 2015 by jerryking
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