Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

subacchi23_PIERO CRUCIATTI_AFP_Getty Images PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP/Getty Images

Hard Lessons from Genoa

In Western Europe and the United States, bridges, roads, and railways built in the 1950s and 1960s during the post-war reconstruction and economic boom are now old, obsolete, and overused. So why aren't they being replaced?

GENOA – Is our infrastructure safe? In the aftermath of the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, this is the question on everybody’s mind. Of course, we could argue that disasters like this are one-offs, and even believe that they may be peculiar to Italy – a country where infrastructure projects are often fertile ground for corruption. But we would only be fooling ourselves.

In Western Europe and the United States, bridges, roads, and railways built in the 1950s and 1960s during the post-war reconstruction and economic boom are now old, obsolete, and overused. Does any developed economy have a long-term strategy to manage its essential infrastructure? Are risks being correctly assessed and mitigated? What are the trade-offs between maintaining and replacing infrastructure approaching the end of its life? And how can citizens influence the public debate about who should pay for infrastructure and where it should be built?

Italy and other advanced economies need policies that strategically and sustainably connect infrastructure plans that local and central governments have produced over the years. They need to assess the resources and assets that will be required in the years ahead. And they should highlight the social value, rather than only the immediate financial returns, of essential infrastructure.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/j1XAxwC;

Handpicked to read next

  1. op_twliu1_XinhuaXiao Yijiu via Getty Images_wuhancoronavirushospitaldoctor Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images
    Free to read

    Witnessing Wuhan

    Tracy Wen Liu

    While Chinese authorities have been projecting an image of national triumph over the COVID-19 outbreak there, the doctors and nurses on the front lines tell a different story. Having lived through hell, they see little to celebrate, much to mourn, and reason to remain fearful.

    9

Edit Newsletter Preferences