why do infrastructure projects in the United States take so long and so much money to build when Europe seems to get high speed rail and better infrastructure for faster and cheaper?

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why do infrastructure projects in the United States take so long and so much money to build when Europe seems to get high speed rail and better infrastructure for faster and cheaper?

In: Engineering

You might be the first person in history to describe European infrastructure projects as being “cheap”!

Politicians like to spend money on short term solutions on a local level. In my town we could use divergence lanes and ramps to ease traffic flow but what we get it stop lights. Politicians that want to be re-elected don’t want to be known as big spenders so they take the cheap options when they can and putting off infrastructure is always cheaper that spending on things that don’t make money right away. In the US, if a State route goes through your town the state or the Federal Government will help the city with the cost of roads and bridges. If the highway runs across multiple counties, the state can apply for Federal help with the projects. Federal funds come form Capital Hill and are allocated out of the yearly budget. First you have to get proposals done. Then impact statements, traffic flow studies, feasibility studies and cost projections. These can be expensive. Then contractors have to put in bids, the bids have to be reviewed and then the contracts awarded. This can take years. The money then needs to be available to pay for the contractors to start work. When politicians are “balancing the budget” that means infrastructure funds usually go bye bye. Then the whole process has to start over.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon gets $690 billion dollars a year and doesn’t have to explain anything until years later.

All government infrastructure projects are long and difficult. Many problems: contractors raise prices because it’s the government – more flush than any of other client and often more forgiving, building codes are increasingly complex, law is increasingly complex, all relevant land is often owned and expropriation is unpopular and expensive, people get attached to architecture and want to keep it the same, and all undeveloped land is undeveloped because it’s worse land than what is developed.

It’s all about political will. It’s more difficult to build infrastructure when you dedicate 800 billions a year to destroy other countries’s infrastuctures. On a more serious note, the US rely more on planes for mass transportation. High speed rail aren’t cheap at all : a TGV (french high speed train) line costs about 2 millions € per km, and a tgv costs about 25 millions per unit (typical tgv unit consists of 8 or 10 cars + two engines).

I think you’re just experiencing an illusion. Most infrastructure projects in the US just need to be bigger as everything is further away and overall somehow larger. In Europe you can finish projects or at least see progress in infrastructure a lot quicker as cities are closer together. This way a railroad for example can connect two large cities after a few years of construction.

It might only seem that way. What high speed rail is concerned, Europe has been building a lot longer already with the first HSR line opening in 1981. Because the technology is almost universally seen as positive here most new high speed lines don’t have a lot of opposition so they get from concept to construction quicker.

Rule 2.

Better to r/askanamerican about this if you want r/answers.