President Trump rolls out much touted infrastructure plan

In last week’s blog, we explained exactly why the Trump administration considers the nation’s infrastructure woes to be such a priority. On Monday, President Trump rolled out his much-anticipated, $1.5 trillion “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America.”

According to a White House statement released yesterday, the Trump administration’s legislative goals for this plan revolve around six principles:

  • “$200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the State, local, Tribal, and private level.”
  • “New investments will be made in rural America, which has been left behind for too long.”
  • “Decision making authority will be returned to State and local governments.”
  • “Regulatory barriers that needlessly get in the way of infrastructure projects will be removed.”
  • “Permitting for infrastructure projects will be streamlined and shortened.”
  • “America’s workforce will be supported and strengthened.”

Those are the “big ideas” behind the infrastructure plan. But how exactly do these grand claims translate into solutions for a “crumbling infrastructure?”

Let’s break it down now, shall we?

highway-1666635_640.jpg

“$200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the State, local, Tribal, and private level.”

President Trump claims the federal expenditure of $200 billion will lead to $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments by promoting “State, local, and private investments and [maximizing] the value of every taxpayer dollar.”

$100 billion will go toward an Incentives Program meant to encourage additional funding for infrastructure projects from States, localities, and private entities.

$20 billion will be used to create the Transformative Projects Program. This program will divvy out federal funding for “bold and innovative projects that have the potential to dramatically improve America’s infrastructure.”

$20 billion will be dedicated to expanding infrastructure funding programs.

$10 billion will go toward a new Federal Capital Revolving Fund, which the White House claims “will reduce inefficient leasing of Federal real property which would be more cost-effective to purchase.

“New investments will be made in rural America, which has been left behind for too long.”

As any truck driver who’s hauled loads down less than impressive country roads knows, rural areas need love, too.

President Trump’s plan aims to support and modernize the roads of rural America by devoting $50 billion of the Federal funding’s $200 billion to a new Rural Infrastructure Program.

Basically, this $50 billion rural block grant program will be divided among the states, contingent upon their miles of rural roads and extent of their rural populations.

The majority of the funds from this program will be given to State governors, allowing states the “flexibility to prioritize their communities’ needs,” according to the White House statement. The rest of the funds from this program will be divvied out through rural performance grants.

“Decision making authority will be returned to State and local governments.”

Funds like those given to state and local authorities through the Incentives and Rural Infrastructure Programs allow state and local governments to concentrate on the infrastructure projects they deem most important.

This transfer of power to state and local governments also addresses another issue targeted by the Trump administration: the reduction in the red tape of the permitting process. According to the White House statement, this plan “expands processes that allow environmental review and permitting decisions to be delegated to the States.”

Speaking of permitting, President Trump’s proposal aims to streamline the permitting process…

“Permitting for infrastructure projects will be streamlined and shortened.”

While actual permit review times can vary based on the scope of a project and other factors, a 2015 study by law firm Arnold & Porter found that the average government permitting process takes 4.7 years.

President Trump wants to cut this process down to two years.

The White House wants to work with Congress to shorten and simplify the approval process for infrastructure projects. This plan also seeks to establish a “one agency, one decision” structure for environmental reviews

“Regulatory barriers that needlessly get in the way of infrastructure projects will be removed.”

Basically, the major idea behind this principle is that transportation projects that receive minimal Federal funding shouldn’t have to obtain the go-ahead from the Federal government for every. little. thing... which makes sense.

Specifically, President Trump’s plan seeks to “provide more flexibility to transportation projects that have minimal Federal funding but are currently required to seek Federal review and approval,” according to Monday’s statement.

And, last but not least,

“America’s workforce will be supported and strengthened.”

While this principle seems to be reaching a bit, the goal of this reform is to change the way we prepare and educate the workforce that will be the hands and feet of this massive infrastructure overhaul.

According to the White House’s statement, the President’s plan would prioritize “high-quality, short-term programs that provide students with a certification or credential in an in-demand field eligible for Pell grants.”

The plan also seeks to overhaul the Perkins Career and Technical Education Program to grant more students access to a technical education suited for the skills required in today’s economy.

Now that we’ve laid the foundation for Trump’s massive infrastructure plan, check back next week as we examine the questions left unanswered by this plan, and explore how these changes will ultimately affect the transportation industry.

As for diesel prices, average diesel prices are down 0.023 from last week to $3.063.

 

bridge pic.jpg