Solving Cities

100 inspiring urban infrastructure projects

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Take a tour of some of the world's greatest urban infrastructure projects.

In the United States it's easy to get down on the current state of infrastructure projects. But around the world -- and in the U.S. -- there are plenty of inspiring infrastructure projects.

Even during tight financial times, cities are coming up with innovative financing mechanisms like public-priviate partnerships to make these projects a reality more quickly.

KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, released a new report, "Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition" showcasing some of the greatest urban infrastructure projects from around the world.

The report looks at 10 infrastructure categories. I looked at the most facinating projects in each category, below:

Urban regeneration

Featured project: Toronto waterfront

Where: Toronto, Canada

What: Over the next 25 years, this $17 billion project will transform the city's waterfront into public space.

Why it important: This underused land will revitalize an important area of land near the city's downtown. It will bring 40,000 new residents to the area (20 percent will be affordable housing) and 40,000 new jobs. It will also be a showcase location for people visiting the city.

Urban mobility

Featured project: Kuwait Metro

Where: Kuwait City

What: A $10 billion rail transit project that will include 28 stations and about 30 miles of tracks throughout the city in its first phase. When completed the metro system will have 69 stations across almost 100 miles of tracks.

Why it's important: The city currently has limited transit options. In this capital city of over 2 million, an overreliance on car means crowded roads. Less motorists on the road means better air quality for the city.

Global connectivity (transportation infrastructure connecting cities or countries)

Featured project: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Where: Delhi/Mumbai, India

What: An ambitious $90 billion mega project will connect the country's capital city (Delhi) with its financial capital (Mumbai). The plans include a high-speed rail line for freight, a six-lane expressway and a 4,000MW power station. Along the corridor nine industrial zones and 24 cities are expected to be built.

Why it's important: The project has an area of influence reaching about 320 million people. Building new cities along the rail and electricity lines will make transportation and power distribution more efficient.

Education

Featured project: Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University for Women

Where: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

What: An 8 million square meter education city for 40,000 students.

Why it's important: The school will offer 60 percent of the city’s female high-school graduates. Degrees will be offered in male-dominated fields of medicine, pharmacy, management, and IT.

Healthcare

Featured project: Integrated Health and Water Management Project

Where: Bahia, Brazil

What: Infrastructure to improve access to clean water and sanitation in 10 municipalities.

Why it's important: The project will improve neonatal care in 25 hospitals throughout the region, reducing the infant mortality rate.

Water

Featured project: Tuas II Desalination Plant

Where: Singapore

What: This is the second phase of Singapore's desalination project. The current plant provides 10 percent of the city-state's water supply. The latest, $1 billion, facility will produce 318,500 cubic meters of water per day, close to three time mores than the current facility produces.

Why it's important: The 274 square mile city-state has no natural aquifers and relies on freshwater imports from Malaysia. This project will help make the area more self-sustaining.

New & Extended Cities

Featured project: Tysons Corner, Virginia

Where: Washington, D.C. metropolitan area

What: A development project that will transform the car-dependent suburb into a walkable, urban center by 2050.

Why it's important: The project is expected to increase the number of residents from 17,000 to 100,000. Being an area where people can work, live, and play will make the development more sustainable.

Recycling and Waste Management

Featured project: The Energy Garden Project

Where: Vancouver, Canada

What: A system that produces renewable energy from food and yard waste.

Why it's important: The $4 million project will divert 27,000 tonnes of food and yard waste from British Columbia landfills, while powering up to 700 homes.

Urban Energy Infrastructure

Featured project: Hyllie District Smart Grid

Where: Malmö, Sweden

What: A smart grid in the Hyllie District will power 9,000 new homes with energy-saving technologies like distributed energy storage and smart meters.

Why it's important: By 2020 the district is expected to run on 100 percent renewable energy. The smart grid will help manage energy use more efficiently.

Communications Infrastructure

Featured project: South American Fiber Optic Ring

What: A 6,000-plus mile fiber optic ring connecting cities and countries throughout South America.

Why it's important: With 80 percent of international data traffic from Latin America going through United States, this project will improve connection speed in South American cities by 20-30 percent.

There are a lot more amazing infrastructure projects in the report. Check them out here.

Photo courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure