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Infrastructure Ideas Fly in Washington

Monday, January 30, 2017

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The first full week of President Donald J. Trump’s administration included a $1 trillion infrastructure bill proposal from Democrats and the leak of two lists of potential administration infrastructure priorities that were called “working drafts.”

On Tuesday (Jan. 24), Senate Democrats unveiled their infrastructure bill, which includes roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects, and projects like upgrades to Veterans Affairs buildings and schools, which are less commonly thought of as “infrastructure.”

Sens. Leahy and  Schumer
Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, via Youtube

Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy (left), Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders (not pictured) unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure bill Tuesday (Jan. 24).

Democrats did not offer a concrete plan for funding the $1 trillion investment, but rejected the idea of using public-private partnerships and tax incentives for developers in order to stoke investment. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said possibilities could include closing tax loopholes or funding the work with tax windfalls resulting from job creation.

Expenditures

The plan, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and called the “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure,” calls for:

  • $200 billion for road and bridge projects;
     
  • $180 billion for rail and bus systems;
     
  • $110 billion for water and wastewater projects;
     
  • $100 billion for upgrades to the power grid and other energy infrastructure;
     
  • $70 billion for ports, airports and waterways;
     
  • $100 billion to “rebuild America’s main streets”; and
     
  • $75 billion for building and renovating schools.

The bill also includes smaller expenditures for upgrades to the VA health system, broadband networks, and addressing what the Democrats call “critical infrastructure backlogs on public lands and in Indian country.” It calls for the expansion of the TIGER Grant program, a Department of Transportation initiative that funds “innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal programs.”

The bill is seen as a challenge to President Trump to fulfill his campaign promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement plan, but will likely see opposition from Republicans, who are predicted to resist public spending on that scale. The Democratic bill also calls on lawmakers to consider establishing an infrastructure bank, an idea generally dismissed by Republicans, but one that Trump reportedly hasn't ruled out.

Proposed Infrastructure Priorities Leaked

The same day, news agency McClatchy gained access to a pair of documents listing infrastructure projects, purported to be the Trump administration’s high-priority list.

Arlington Memorial  Bridge
© iStock.com / amedved

The list of proposed priority projects, developed by consulting firm CG/LA, includes the Arlington Memorial Bridge, between Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

The lists—one shared with state governors and the other with members of Congress and the business community—were later said to be “working drafts” of the president’s priorities, put together by consulting firm CG/LA, which is acting as an “unofficial adviser” to the president, according to the Kansas City Star.

The lists, described as “nearly identical,” include:

  • The Gordie Howe International Bridge in Michigan;
     
  • The Peace Bridge in New York state;
     
  • The Lake Ponchartrain Bridge in Louisiana;
     
  • 15 bridges on I-95 around Philadelphia;
     
  • Arlington Memorial Bridge in Virginia;
     
  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline; and
     
  • The Alaska Pipeline and LNG Project.

Trump has not outlined his infrastructure plan, which Congressional Republicans have said will likely come after the administration's first 100 days, but in his first week, he opened the door to the revival of the Keystone XL pipeline and a restart for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and signed executive orders designed to begin the process of designing and building his signature wall for the nation’s border with Mexico.

The wall will reportedly cost between $8 billion and $14 billion and Trump has repeatedly said that Mexico will reimburse the United States for the cost of building it. Mexican President Enrique Pena-Nieto said Wednesday that his country would not pay for the wall, and cancelled a visit to the White House that had been scheduled for this week.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Funding; Government; Infrastructure; North America; Pipeline; potable water; President Trump; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

Comment from Catherine Brooks of Eco-Strip, (2/3/2017, 3:03 PM)

The Republican funding of major interstate bridge repairs addresses auto & truck road traffic and standard fuel infrastructure. The Democratic proposal addresses the broader problems with air, water, and rail transportation as well as electrical energy issues. Ok so public education has no priority. What about our country's future?


Comment from Gregory Stoner, (2/16/2017, 10:20 AM)

So right,any country's most valuable resource is their people.


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