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$1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan ‘Weeks’ Away

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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President Donald J. Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan is just weeks from being unveiled, according to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and it will reportedly include $200 billion in taxpayer funds that will be used to leverage the remaining $800 billion in private investment.

Chao made that announcement Monday (May 15) at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event kicking off 2017 Infrastructure Week. She said that public-private partnerships will be key to the plan, which was a major campaign promise for Trump and which has been seen as an opportunity for the president to work across the aisle with Democrats.

Bridge construction
© iStock.com / herreid

The Trump administration's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, said to be weeks away from its unveiling, will reportedly involve public-private partnerships and an infrastructure bank.

On Tuesday, CNBC reported that the advisory committee set up by the president to craft the infrastructure plan had presented him with a one-page outline of its proposal last week. According to the network, the plan includes the creation of an “infrastructure bank” to help fund projects.

Regulatory Concerns

In her speech on Monday, Chao pointed to the recent accelerated replacement of the bridge on I-85 in Atlanta that burned in March as an example of the quick and efficient work that can be done when state, federal and local governments work together.

Chao said decreasing the regulatory burden, a focus of the Trump administration, would help to cut costs, accelerate accomplishments in the field, and cut paperwork.

“Streamlining the regulatory process not only cuts costs,” she said, "it can improve environmental outcomes by delivering infrastructure improvements more quickly, and spending resources on actual environmental mitigation, rather than stacks of paperwork.”

Addressing P3 Worries

Chao also noted in her speech that the administration plans to address concerns that some have raised about the potential pitfalls of a public-private partnership model for infrastructure. P3 projects often involve the private partner collecting tolls or otherwise profiting from a piece of infrastructure after it’s built, in order to recoup the funds it invested. Critics say that while this works well in high-traffic, urban areas where tolls are profitable, it can leave rural areas lacking.

Elaine Chao
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao noted Monday that the administration plans to address concerns that some have raised about the potential pitfalls of a public-private partnership model for infrastructure.

“Everyone recognizes there is no one-size-fits-all revenue model for infrastructure projects,” Chao said. “This administration is committed to an infrastructure package that addresses the needs of the entire country, urban and rural.”

History of the Plan

During the 2016 campaign, Trump introduced the idea of an infrastructure plan that would total between $800 billion and $1 trillion, using private investment as well as public funds. The plan came as a counter to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s infrastructure proposal, which included $250 billion in direct government funding and $25 billion for an infrastructure bank.

An infrastructure bank would lend federal funds to state and local governments and public-private partnerships to bankroll infrastructure improvements.

Some were taken aback in March when Trump’s “skinny budget,” a basic blueprint for the 2018 federal budget plan, cut discretionary funding for the DOT by $2.4 billion, and proposed the elimination of programs including DOT TIGER Grants. The administration, however, explained that the cuts would be more than made up for in the separate infrastructure bill still to come.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Funding; Infrastructure; President Trump; Public-private partnerships (P3)

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