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At times it may seem like a broken record, the way people keep bringing it up.  Our bridges and roads are in disrepair, our transportation systems need major investment, our aging water infrastructure requires significant maintenance – and somehow we have to find the money to fix it.

And former Gov. Ed Rendell is now adding his voice to the mix. Rendell, who has long spoken of the need to invest in the nation’s infrastructure, will be keynote speaker for the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia’s June 20 presentation of the conclusions of its collaborative research, Global Positioning Strategy for Infrastructure.

The event, from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. at the Independence Visitor’s Center, will outline the nine infrastructure goals, broken down by three broad focus areas, that it has determined are the highest priority:

Global and National Connections

  • Develop Philadelphia International Airport as a world class facility.
  • Improve intercity rail connections, primarily along the Northeast Corridor, with key metro areas.
  • Enhance capacity on the region’s freight rail networks.

Regional Mobility

  • Bring the region’s transit systems up to a state of good repair.
  • Upgrade aging roads and bridges in the region.
  • Strengthen connections between the region’s economic hubs.

Sustainable Systems

  • Modernize and protect the region’s existing water infrastructure.
  • Enhance regional energy infrastructure.
  • Preserve and expand the region’s network of open space.

The idea is to strengthen the constituency of business and civic leaders who support investing in infrastructure and unite them around a common agenda. Because the reality is that by and large, state and government agencies haven’t had the money to adequately maintain their infrastructure over time. And in the Philadelphia region, where there is already extensive system of aging infrastructure, the biggest challenge is fixing, maintaining and bringing it back into good repair.

Over the past six months the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia in partnership with the Urban Land Institute of Philadelphia has convened a strategy team of about 50 people from the public, private and non-profit sectors to come up with infrastructure priorities for the region. For its purposes, the Economy League defines infrastructure as transportation, water, energy and open space networks.

The Infrastructure GPS is part of World Class Greater Philadelphia, a business and civic led initiative to develop an agenda for the future growth and development of Philadelphia region, essentially a “world class” city. In March, the Economy League released global positioning strategies focused on education and talent outcomes and business growth as part of the World Class initiative. As far as the Infrastructure GPS, public awareness and finding innovative ways to finance infrastructure in the region will be key in promoting and achieving its agenda.

“Today I’d say that the public probably has a better understanding of the need for investing in infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure than it did maybe 10-15 years ago,” said Nick Frontino, project manager at the Economy League. “But there’s still a long way to go to be able to build real support to get the type of investment that we need for world class infrastructure in this region.”

Additional coverage by PlanPhilly, Philadelphia Business Journal, and Regions Business.