Business Leaders and Transportation Experts Outline Plan for Federal and Private Investment In Infrastructure

Business Leaders and Transportation Experts Outline Plan for Federal and Private Investment In Infrastructure


U.S. Spends Just 1.6% of GDP on Infrastructure Compared to 5-9% in Most Other European and Asian Developed Countries


The Gateway Program, Highest Infrastructure Priority Regionally and of National Significance Needs Strong Federal/Local Partnership & Federal Funding to Get Built


NEW YORK, NY – As part of the conversation around the federal infrastructure plan which was released this week, Regional Plan Association (RPA) has released a report entitled “Rescue and Renew: Addressing the Metropolitan Region's Infrastructure Crisis,” which looks at the need for catalytic federal investment in infrastructure in our region and metropolitan regions across the country, and how our international peers are out-competing us when it comes to infrastructure.


The report is the outcome of the Milstein Forums on New York’s Future, convened by Howard Milstein, Governor Ed Rendell, and RPA. The forums were joined by 40 leaders from the business, economic development, transportation, and urban planning sectors from across the region. The Forums’ focus included the implementation of public/private partnerships to advance infrastructure repairs and development.


Together this group identified the Gateway Program as the region’s most critical infrastructure priority.


“When it comes to these large and vital projects, only government can provide the lead funding.  But, that funding attracts private sector partners and know-how,” said Howard Milstein, Chairman of Milstein Properties, Emigrant Bank and former Chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority. “We employed a variety of innovative approaches to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge and were able to deliver the bridge at a savings of $2 billion to taxpayers versus original estimates. When government and the private sector work together, we can find efficient and effective ways to deliver these big projects.”


“What we learned from surveying infrastructure projects in this region and across the globe is that innovation from the business community is vital. But, at the end of the day we also need to dramatically increase the amount we’re spending on infrastructure from local, state and federal sources,” said Tom Wright, President Regional Plan Association.


The report contains case studies from four cities -- London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Denver -- places that are making critical investments in their long-term economic viability through project innovation and institutional reform, and highlights lessons learned that could be applied to our region. It also looks at three recent local projects -- the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, the #7 subway line extension and the replacement of LaGuardia’s Central Terminal and finds best practices that can be applied to other projects as well.


Critical recommendations from the Milstein Forums Report include:


Build the new Gateway Tunnel and advance national transit priorities immediately

The New York region, and the country, will not succeed without a new passenger tunnel under the Hudson River. And it must be completed before the existing tunnels fail, which is likely to happen within the next two decades. Federal, state and local leaders need to keep their focus on this priority, and the business community must continue advocating and explaining what will happen if we lose the Northeast Corridor for an extended period of time.


Use P3s wisely to drive innovation, but public infrastructure projects will still require public funding

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have helped advanced infra-structure projects in the New York metropolitan region, but have not been a replacement for government financing from the fed-eral, state and local levels. The Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, in particular, has been critical in financing transit projects, though the slow planning timeline for New Starts has been a consistent frustration for local agencies.


Dramatically increase federal, state and local government spending on infrastructure

Our economy, national security, and future success as a region depend on our infrastructure network, a network that is currently falling apart from years of disinvestment. Even as we look to private investment in infrastructure, we still need the public sector to lead by investing in maintenance, modernization and capacity expansion. The federal government needs to lead here, and reward cities and states for providing local funds.


Political leaders must unite to solve the crisis

Infrastructure projects across the country have benefited from strong leaders and political coalitions. Our elected leaders need to put aside their differences and find common ground to move forward on an ambitious program of rebuilding and modernizing. This applies equally to federal, state and local officials and legislators. Infrastructure is too important to become a political bargaining chip. The economy of New York is literally being held hostage. Every day that we fail to build the Gateway project, expand our airports or modernize our subways is another lost opportunity.


The business community must take a leadership role

We can’t rely on politicians or the public sector to fix all our problems. London’s Crossrail project was advanced in large part because of business support and willingness to contribute financially. The New York business community must step up to the plate, demonstrate leadership, and help solve this crisis.


Read the full report here:


The Milstein Forums also helped inform RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan and recent report on reducing capital costs for rail projects.




About Regional Plan Association

Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced four landmark plans for the region, the most recent was released in November 2017. For more information, please visit or