Continued from previous pageHe added, “This is not an option. This is a necessity.”
Trump offered no further details about the projected budget and scope that his administration would propose for rebuilding the nation’s aged transportation infrastructure.
Trump made infrastructure a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, often referring to a $1 trillion spending plan that would rely heavily on private investment to supplement state and federal spending, but many analysts questioned whether the private sector would be interested in investing in assets that generally don’t provide a direct return on that investment.
The president in March 2018 asked Congress to come up with a 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment plan that only uses $200 billion in federal funds, but questions remained on where the remaining $1.3 trillion in project funding would come from.
While some infrastructure building assistance has been made available through various Department of Transportation infrastructure grant programs, the financial burden largely has fallen to states and local communities in recent years.
Arguments in Congress continue as to how to properly disperse billions of dollars collected for the Highway Trust Fund or raise the gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure.
Trade associations, nonetheless, praised Trump for highlighting the need for modern transportation infrastructure in his speech.
“President Trump understands that one of the most effective ways to ensure continued economic growth is through making needed investments in our roads, bridges, water systems and other public infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, in a statement.
“These economic benefits accrue from the expansion of new, high-paying construction career opportunities. But the more significant economic gains will come as we make our economy more efficient by relieving congestion, making drinking water safe for all and improving safety,” he said.
Elaine Nessle, executive director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC), said, “For too many years, federal freight infrastructure investment has lagged while our population and national economy grow. This financial burden cannot be shouldered by states, localities and the private sector alone. There needs to be a commitment to driving an investment plan at the federal level.
“Existing programs are oversubscribed and international trading partners are outpacing our investments at a rapid clip – increased funding dedicated to freight infrastructure is necessary in order for the U.S. to remain competitive in the world marketplace,” she said.
The coalition has long advocated for a freight-focused multimodal competitive grant program that uses “objective, performance-based merit criteria to select high-priority goods movement projects.”
According to CAGTC, the country’s freight system moves 55 million tons of goods a day, valued at more than $49 billion. Freight movement across all modes is expected to increase 42 percent by 2040.
The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “America’s Infrastructure Needs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Economy,” on Feb. 13.