"A growing pattern of underinvestment and uncoordinated planning has led to a range of concerns that are felt across the country, including widespread congestion, unsafe bridges, inadequate water supply and an electricity grid that is increasingly pressed beyond its ability." -- NGA Chair and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (pictured).

The National Governors Association (NGA) 2009 Winter Meeting concluded today with a closing plenary session highlighting infrastructure financing best practices from around the world and charting an action-based roadmap for NGA Chair Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's initiative, Strengthening Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future.

"A growing pattern of underinvestment and uncoordinated planning has led to a range of concerns that are felt across the country, including widespread congestion, unsafe bridges, inadequate water supply and an electricity grid that is increasingly pressed beyond its ability," said Gov. Rendell. "To ensure our nation's ability to compete in an evolving global economy and respond to crucial energy and environmental challenges, we must not only maintain our infrastructure system but also enhance and improve it."

"A robust, well-maintained national infrastructure is essential to sustaining -- and growing -- America's economic vitality, environmental health and quality of life," said NGA Vice Chair Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. "States that successfully formulate a new, sustainable infrastructure vision for America in the 21st century will be helping to improve the daily lives of all Americans and revitalize the nation for years to come."

Dr. Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, provided his perspectives on government's role in developing other forms of infrastructure, such as broadband and smart electric grid technology. He also discussed approaches other nations are taking to fund and finance transportation and recommended options states and the federal government can consider moving forward, including those examined by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission.

Denmark's Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard offered insights into the Danish experience with transportation infrastructure, including how Denmark has successfully integrated rail into its transportation system. She also provided advice on balancing urban and rural concerns, ways to utilize new pricing and financing mechanisms and strategies to integrate new technologies such as plug in hybrid electric vehicles.