U.S. delegation to build on nations’ shared strengths

Editor’s note: Originally published in The Australian.

It was during the First World War that Australia and the US forged an enduring bond of shared sacrifice and bravery, as well as ingenuity, that continues today in the spirit of mateship. As we enter a new century of our security relationship, we have a golden opportunity to build stronger economic ties as well.

This week, I am bringing a delegation of US officials to Australia for an exchange of ideas and to study your country’s infrastructure innovations.

The movement of people, goods and ideas is the lifeblood of a free economy. That’s why both our nations are in a sprint to repair and modernize our roads, bridges, transit and ports in order to meet the needs of the 21st century.

This visit is part of a year-long effort I am leading as the elected chair of the National Governors Association. Unlike all the noise and anger you see coming out of Washington, there are leaders in our states who are willing to work together across party lines to take on the big problems.

I launched a national infrastructure initiative to bring together leaders from government and business to help solve the infrastructure crisis in America, and to drive action from our federal government. This visit is our first step in taking this initiative global.

Our delegation includes officials and infrastructure experts from Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana and Washington state, with a combined population of nearly 24 million — close to that of Australia.

We are honored to be meeting with leaders from across government, including premiers Steven Marshall of South Australia and Gladys Berejiklian of NSW, as we forge stronger ties at the subnational level.

We also will have a chance to speak with experts from many of Australia’s successful private companies and tour both pioneering public works and renowned cultural assets.

I am especially looking forward to sharing our success story from Maryland, where we have taken a balanced, all-inclusive approach to infrastructure.

We have moved forward on nearly all of the highest-priority transportation projects in every single jurisdiction, including more than 800 projects totalling $US9bn ($13bn) in roads, bridges and tunnels under construction. We have invested a record $US14bn in transit. The Baltimore-Washington International Airport continues to be the No. 1 airport in our region in passenger traffic, and the Port of Baltimore continues to break records year after year.

One focus of our exchanges with Australian counterparts will be public-private partnerships, also known as P3s. Through P3s, governments tap new financing sources and partner with private entities to tackle big infrastructure projects.

Our Purple Line transit project in the Washington Capital Region is the largest of its kind in North America. And, to address some of the worst traffic congestion in the US, we recently advanced the largest P3 highway project in the world.

As Australian leaders and US governors know, investments in regional infrastructure, while often difficult in the short term, pay significant dividends in the long term. In the US, economists have found that every dollar spent on infrastructure results in more than $1.60 in GDP growth.

Governors see first-hand how investments in our roads, bridges, transit, ports and airports are making life better for our citizens. Brave ideas from our mates in Australia inspire us to make the difficult decisions in the short term, and use our ingenuity to build a better infrastructure future for us all.

Editor’s note: Larry Hogan is the governor of the US State of Maryland and the chair of the National Governors Association.

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