Will Trump’s plan reverse the deterioration?
President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail last year to launch a $1 trillion program to regenerate the country’s infrastructure. Few dispute the need for a major investment: The Flint water crisis, a 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse and the 2003 Northeast blackout show the dangers of neglecting infrastructure. But there are questions about Trump’s approach, which would rely heavily on tax benefits for private investors who help finance projects. This method appeals to his fellow Republicans who control Congress. But many experts and Democratic lawmakers say federal money is needed as well.
As the debate begins, here are some key takeaways:
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S.’s infrastructure a grade of D+ in 2013.
Trump’s plan is likely to rely heavily on public-private partnerships to provide the needed funding.
The public supports greater infrastructure spending; 69 percent told Gallup pollsters a major program in that area was very important.
Resources for Further Study
Bakke, Gretchen, “The Grid,” Bloomsbury, 2016. A cultural anthropologist and professor at McGill University in Montreal examines the haphazard evolution and growth of the electric grid in the United States, and how both aging components and new technologies threaten it.
Bernstein, Peter L., “Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation,” W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005. The late financial historian detailed the political, financial and engineering challenges that stood in the way of constructing the Erie Canal, as well as the rewards New York and the rest of the world reaped when it was completed.
Petroski, Henry, “The Road Taken,” Bloomsbury, 2016. A Duke University professor of engineering examines the origins of the United States’ infrastructure crisis and the difficulties policy makers have confronted when trying to fix it.
Swift, Earl, “The Big Roads,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. A former Virginia journalist retraces the history of the interstate highway system, from the advent of the automobile until the completion of the system in 1992, with a special emphasis on the people who made it happen.
Formby, Brandon, “Texans Fear Trump’s Highways Plan Will Create More Toll Roads,” The Texas Tribune, Nov. 25, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Sommerhauser, Mark, “As Donald Trump Eyes Infrastructure Spending, State Leaders Assess Impact for Wisconsin,” LaCrosse Tribune, Dec. 31, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Vock, Daniel C., “In Flint’s Aftermath, Water Will Run by New Rules,” Governing, September 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Wolfe, Kathryn A., and Lauren Gardner, “Conservatives vs. Trump’s Infrastructure Plan,” Politico, Nov. 11, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure,” American Society of Civil Engineers, http://tinyurl.com/
“Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” American Water Works Association, Feb. 27, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
“Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future,” American Society of Civil Engineers, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Financial Structuring and Assessment for Public–Private Partnerships: A Primer,” Office of Innovative Program Delivery, Federal Highway Administration, December 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
“Privatization, Waste and Unfunded Projects: The Problems with Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal,” Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, November 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014,” Congressional Budget Office, March 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“Ramping Up Mississippi’s Economy Through Transportation,” Mississippi Economic Council, December 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Greenberg, Scott, “Reexamining the Tax Exemption of Municipal Bond Interest,” Tax Foundation, July 21, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Maguire, Steven, and Jeffrey M. Stupak, “Tax-Exempt Bonds: A Description of State and Local Government Debt,” Congressional Research Service, Jan. 9, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Ross, Wilbur, and Peter Navarro, “Trump Versus Clinton On Infrastructure,” Donald J. Trump for President, Oct. 27, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
White, Adam J., “Infrastructure Policy: Lessons from American History,” The New Atlantis, Spring 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
“NC ranks among worst in U.S. for structurally deficient bridges,” WSOC-TV, Feb. 2, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Garfield, Leanna, “Obama’s Secretary of Transportation reveals 3 infrastructure problems that Trump needs to solve,” Business Insider, Jan. 29, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Liptak, Andrew, “Poor US roads mean FedEx is going through tires twice as fast,” The Verge, Feb. 4, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Andersen, Travis, “Green Line extension makes Trump’s infrastructure list,” Boston Globe, Jan. 25, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Murray, Jon, “Massive transit-oriented housing project in Elyria-Swansea could build 560 homes near stock show,” The Denver Post, Jan. 29, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Slowey, Kim, “Los Angeles Metro considering P3s to accelerate transit project schedules,” Construction Dive, Feb. 6, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Dube, Elliot T., “Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Could Create 11 Million Jobs,” Bloomberg BNA, Jan. 13, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Popken, Ben, “Trump Meets Labor Union Heads and Promises to Build,” NBC News, Jan. 24, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Zanona, Melanie, “Study: Urban areas more likely to benefit under Trump-style infrastructure plan,” The Hill, Feb. 2, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Berman, Mark, and Brady Dennis, “Flint water falls below federal lead limits, but residents are still asked to use filtered water,” The Washington Post, Jan. 24, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
McKelvey, Wallace, “Poor drinking water oversight could have ‘serious public health implications’ for Pennsylvanians, EPA says,” Penn Live, Feb. 1, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Pignataro, T.J., “Cuomo proposes $2 billion water infrastructure plan,” The Buffalo News, Jan. 10, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
444 North Capitol St., N.W., #249, Washington, DC 20001
Interest group representing state transportation directors that also sets design standards for highways and equipment.
American Society for Civil Engineers
1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA 20191
Interest group that publishes the Infrastructure Report Card every four years and advocates for increased infrastructure spending by governments.
American Water Works Association
6666 W. Quincy Ave., Denver, CO 80235
Interest and educational group for the water industry.
Building America’s Future Educational Fund
1101 K St., N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005
Coalition of elected officials focused on improving infrastructure to help the economy and environment.
Eno Center for Transportation
710 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036
Think tank that researches all modes of transportation.
National Association of City Transportation Officials
120 Park Ave., 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10017
Organization of city-based transportation professionals, emphasizes the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users in street design.
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E., Washington, DC 20590
Federal agency responsible for regulating, planning and funding transportation efforts.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20460
The federal government’s environmental regulatory agency.