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Trump's Plan for Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

Written by Sandy Williams

The White House released its infrastructure plan this week offering $200 billion in federal funds, far short of the $1 trillion promised during the Trump election campaign.

The plan is to “stimulate” $1.5 trillion in investment over the next 10 years to be accomplished through a combination of incentives, asset divesture and reductions in regulations. The bulk of the funding is to come from states, localities and private investors who are “best equipped to understand the infrastructure needs of their communities.”

The biggest portion of The Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America calls for a $100 billion infrastructure incentive program administered by the Department of Transportation, the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

States and localities would receive grants based on weighted evaluation criteria for each project, including securing new non-federal revenue for long-term funding of infrastructure investments. The grants are contingent on achieving progress milestones within identified time frames. An incentive grant cannot exceed 20 percent of new revenue and individual states cannot receive more than 10 percent of the total amount available under the incentives program.

Rural areas would benefit from the Rural Infrastructure Program, which would provide $50 billion for capital investment in rural infrastructure projects.

The Transformative Projects Program would provide $20 billion to improve infrastructure service performance “from the perspective of availability, safety, reliability, frequency, and service speed.”

Another $20 billion would be dedicated to advancing major, complex infrastructure through expanding federal credit programs ($14 billion) and Private Activity Bonds ($6 billion). The program is designed to provide tools for private entities to invest in public infrastructure such as airports and nonfederal waterways and ports, railroads, water infrastructure and agricultural rural utilities.

A new Interior Maintenance Fund will be established for revenues from U.S. mineral and energy development on federal lands and waters. Up to $18 billion of revenue from these sources would be added to the fund.

In addition to providing funding for these programs, the administration suggests generating income from the divestment of federal property. Unneeded federal property would be sold with agencies allowed to keep the proceeds. Saleable federal assets that the administration believes would be better managed by state, local or private entities include:

  • Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International Airports;
  • George Washington and Baltimore Washington Parkways;
  • Southwestern Power Administration’s transmission assets;
  • Western Area Power Administration’s transmission assets;
  • Tennessee Valley Authority transmission assets;
  • Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission assets; and
  • Washington Aqueduct.

Part Two of the infrastructure plan outlines ways for additional financing to be collected, such as allowing states more flexibility to impose tolls on interstates, extending passenger facility charges to non-hub and small hub airports, and commercializing operation and maintenance at hydropower facilities.

Part Three establishes a “One Agency, One Decision” environmental review structure that institutes firm deadlines to complete environmental reviews and permits. Redundant reviews of environmental impact are eliminated, more flexibility is provided for exclusions, contractors can finish design activities before final approvals are given, etc.

States would assume more responsibility for Federal Highway Administration and National Environmental Policy Act decisions.

Lastly, Part Four addresses workforce development. The plan suggests expanding Pell Grants to short-term programs, reforming career and technical education, and strengthening ties to the workforce for college students. It would also make it easier for individuals to be licensed to work on infrastructure projects.

The above is only a brief summary; the 55-page document can be read in its entirety here.

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