Connecting to the Future

Leading the way on infrastructure development

By Michael S. Burke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AECOM

May 17, 2017

At AECOM, we are proud to be a leader in designing and building the 21st-century infrastructure assets on which America’s economy rests and the nation’s prosperity depends.

Our fully integrated team of architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals are aligned in their passion to provide our clients with innovative solutions to their most complex problems. Our global work can be experienced in every facet of infrastructure, from solar-powered sports stadiums to major greenfield ports, modern rail systems to Olympic venues that can be converted to school buildings.

Witnessing these innovations, I am optimistic about the vital role that new civil infrastructure will play in the U.S. economy. Innovations promise to transform how we travel and transport goods, while saving time and money and reducing our impacts on the natural environment.

Still, optimism must be matched by realism, and the United States faces serious challenges when it comes to the state of our infrastructure. Years of underinvestment and neglect have degraded U.S. infrastructure to a perilous degree. The nation has tumbled far down the global rankings of the quality of a country’s infrastructure, and U.S. public spending in these vital building blocks of our economy amounts to a paltry 2.4 percent of our gross domestic product, or GDP.

In recent months, acknowledgement of the problem has turned to action, with public and political support growing for infrastructure investment. Billions of dollars have been allocated at the state and local level for transportation and other projects. And we hope to learn more soon about the contours of a $1 trillion federal infrastructure investment plan that, while promising, may fall short in meeting an estimated $3.6 trillion spending need in the U.S.

In Back in Business: A Policy Blueprint for Renewing America’s Infrastructure, Business Roundtable provides a guide for policymakers to reverse this dangerous course, boosting public infrastructure resources today and encouraging investments in research and development for the future.

At AECOM, we are working to identify the most effective responses to even the most daunting infrastructure challenges this country faces. One innovative example: To address motorists’ concerns over electric vehicle range and charging capacities, AECOM is partnering with the Colorado Department of Transportation on roadways that allow electric vehicles to charge as they drive.

Our sights are set even higher. We engineered and built the first Hyperloop test track, and we are supporting efforts to commercialize this new form of high-speed transport — based on a network of low-pressure tubes and air-cushioned pods — that could someday transport goods and people across vast geographies at unprecedented speeds.

Still, innovation requires investment. As the U.S. rebuilds and expands the foundation of its economy, policymakers must encourage a climate that promotes investment in projects that meet the needs of the public and the demands of the marketplace. When the public and private sectors work together, the United States can unleash the promise of modern technology to build safer, more efficient and more cost-effective infrastructure that better serves the needs of the U.S. economy and the American people.