Richard Little, Director of the USC Keston Institute and an America 2050 partner discussed high-speed rail this week with Brian Sullivan on Fox Business News. Little emphasized the need to invest strategically in corridors where there's demand for high-speed rail service.
Richard G. Little is a Senior Fellow in the School of Policy Planning and Development and Director of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy at the University of Southern California. Mr. Little teaches, consults, conducts research, and develops policy studies aimed at informing the discussion of infrastructure issues critical to California and the nation. Prior to joining USC, he was Director of the Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment of the National Research Council (NRC) where he directed a program of studies in building and infrastructure research. He has conducted numerous studies dealing with life-cycle management and financing of infrastructure, project management, and hazard preparedness and mitigation and has lectured and published extensively on risk management and decision-making for critical infrastructure. Mr. Little has almost forty years experience in planning, management, and policy development relating to public facilities, including fifteen years with local government. He has been certified by examination by the American Institute of Certified Planners, is a member of the American Planning Association and the Society for Risk Analysis, and is Editor of the journal Public Works Management and Policy. He holds a B.S. in Geology and an M.S. in Urban-Environmental Studies, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Mr. Little was elected to the National Academy of Construction in 2008.
Rather than adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt to pay for our long-overdue infrastructure revival, perhaps the President and Congress should consider an alternative path. As this is written, public and institutional pension funds, battered by continuing double-digit stock market declines that have steepened in 2009, are looking to invest in anything that can generate stable, long-term returns on equity. At the same time, interest remains strong in finding a politically-acceptable means of addressing projected shortfalls in social security revenues. In "Not the Macquarie Model: Using U.S. Sovereign Wealth to Renew America's Civil Infrastructure," a paper prepared for America2050, I suggest that there is an "alternative path" with the capacity to supply significant additional capital for infrastructure investment while at the same time addressing the need of public pension funds and the Social Security Administration to obtain higher returns with minimal risk.