Austerity, spending cuts and deficit reduction.
With all the talk of fiscal restraint, it's easy to assume there's little in the coffers for the sort of vast infrastructure projects we've seen over the last century.
True, the EU has reduced its transport infrastructure budget through 2020, while groups like the American Society of Engineers have stated that too little is being put aside to fund the big projects of tomorrow -- but it's not all doom and gloom.
In many emerging nations transport spending is speeding ahead at breakneck pace, while in the developed world large projects have continued despite the rumbling aftershocks of the 2008 financial crash.
Here, we take a look at some of the biggest, most important and spectacular transport infrastructure developments currently in the works around the world.
Already an engineering wonder, the 99-year-old Panama Canal is being upgraded to cater for the ever increasing heft of the world's merchant shipping fleet. Construction was approved in 2006 and is due for completion in 2014.
The $5.25 billion project will add three 1,400-foot-long, 180 foot wide and 60-foot-deep locks to each end of the 51-mile aquatic passageway that links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This enhanced capability will enable the canal to cater for more of the giant container vessels that are increasingly favored by the world's largest shipping companies.
A few hundred miles to the north meanwhile, early plans are afoot to build a new canal in Nicaragua with even greater capacity at a cost of $40 billion.
A city straddling two continents, Istanbul has long been a strategic gateway between Europe and Asia.
Now, construction of one of the world's deepest submerged transport tunnels is pulling east and west even closer together. The Marmaray Project is a 76-kilometer (47.2-mile) subterranean railway development that will ferry travelers under a 1.4-km (0.9-mile) section of the Bosphorus Strait and connect busy railway lines on either side of the historic waterway.
The project began in 2004 and is due to be completed towards the end of 2013, later than originally planned due to delays caused by the archaeological sensitivity of the surrounding area.
Beijing's new international airport
Playing host to eight runways and with the capabilities to cater for 130 million passengers every year, Beijing's new international airport will be among the world's largest and busiest when it is slated to come online in 2017 (although Istanbul's recently announced third airport will trump it with a 150 million capacity when it opens in 2018).
Air travel has expanded rapidly in China in recent years in line with the country's booming economy. In 2011, the Chinese government announced plans to increase the total number of airports in the country from 175 to 230 by 2015 to cope with demand.
Beijing alone is set to handle between 450 and 500 million passengers every year by then, meaning the city's existing airports need assistance to cope with the expected rise in demand. Construction of the new airport, which will be situated in the city's Daxing district, was confirmed in January 2013 and is due to begin in early 2014, according to local media.
Etihad Rail Network
In a land brimming with ostentatious development projects, the nitty-gritty of rail infrastructure pales when compared to the world's tallest building or man-made luxury islands -- but it shouldn't.
The 1,200 kilometer Etihad Rail network will extend across the desert hinterland of the United Arab Emirates, from the border of Saudi Arabia in the west to the frontiers of Oman in the east.
Costing $11 billion and taking in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and all of the Northern Emirates, developers hope the freight and passenger project will eventually join up with an international rail network covering Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
Towering high above chaotic din of inner-city traffic, the Hyderabad Metro system is expected to provide daily transport for up to 1.7 million of the southern Indian city's residents by 2017, according to the regional government.
The $2.1 billion project will provide 72 kilometers of elevated track with stations every one kilometer. Developers say the system will improve journey times, reduce traffic on roads and provide an eco-friendly mass transport alternative to polluting car or bus journeys.
The LAPSSET Project