Construction leaders back Trump’s push for $1.5T infrastructure bill

ConDig (31-Jan-18).  Leaders of the US construction industry have backed renewed calls by President Trump for a $1.5 trillion investment in infrastructure over the next ten years.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump highlighted his plan to rebuild the nation’s “crumbling” infrastructure and pledged to push Congress to approve the plan. He vowed to build “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land.”

Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, welcomed the infrastructure plan and backed calls to accelerate the approval process for construction projects.

“President Trump understands that the best way to fully capitalize on recently enacted tax reforms is to make significant new investments in infrastructure. While the tax cuts appear to be boosting the private sector, our economic growth is being constrained by traffic-clogged roads, aging bridges, decaying waterways and overburdened clean water systems,” he said.

“President Trump made a strong and compelling case for Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to provide an additional $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments. These investments will help improve aging public works and allow state and local officials to make the kind of investments needed to maintain our global economic competitiveness.”

It has been estimated that about 54,259 of the 612,677 bridges in the US are “structurally deficient,” according to a report released by American Road & Transportation Builders Association this week. Americans cross these deficient bridges 174 million times a day.

Under Trump’s plan, the government would look to leverage state, local and private money to generate $1.5 trillion, which some industry leaders have questioned.

“Our economy can only continue to grow and thrive with major investments in our critical infrastructure systems,” said a spokesman for the Construction Employers of America.

“We are eager to review the details of the Administration’s proposal as infrastructure has historically been funded primarily through federal grants and programs. It will be incredibly difficult to shift the enormous costs of roads, waterways, airports, electric systems, telecommunications, and public buildings — all of which have regional or national impacts — to local and state governments and private investors.”

In August, Trump signed an executive order to streamline the federal permitting process for construction of transportation, water and other infrastructure projects.

Trump has noted that there is a $8.7 billion maintenance backlog for the country’s waterways.

“The ball is in Capitol Hill’s court. If scientists can clone monkeys, Congress ought to be able to figure out how to raise federal dollars to fix the Highway Trust Fund and modernize our choking national freight network. Those are the top two infrastructure priorities,” said Pete Ruane, president and ceo of the The American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

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