Trump Infrastructure Plan Gets Mixed Reviews

The Trump Administration’s proposed infrastructure plan has been released to mixed reviews from the transportation sector.

A qualified positive review came from the Association of American Railroads, which called the plan a start in a discussion about infrastructure needs.

In a prepared statement, AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger said the trade organization “particularly welcomes the efforts to streamline the federal permitting processes, including in the proposal’s attempt to codify executive orders into law while also strengthening existing processes.”

However, the American Public Transportation Association expressed concern about proposed “deep cuts” in federal programs that fund public transit infrastructure.

“The $200 billion proposed by the administration for infrastructure would be paid for by cutting funding for critical public transportation infrastructure programs, including the Capital Improvement Grants, Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, and Amtrak in the fiscal-year 2019 budget,” APTA said in a statement. “This would be a big mistake and counterproductive to fostering prosperous communities.”

APTA did commend the administration’s commitment to strengthening American infrastructure.

President Trump has proposed that states and local communities match federal funds they receive to implement infrastructure improvement projects. It is also seeking to encourage private-sector investors in public works projects.

The plan would expand the use of tax-exempt debt, allow states to add tolls on interstate highways, and make it easier to lease airports and other public assets.

The AAR said a key component of any infrastructure plan needs to be a long-term solution to shoring up the Highway Trust Fund.

It noted that such a proposal was not included in Trump’s infrastructure plan.

“Policymakers should make every effort to return surface transportation funding to a truly equitable, user-pay system as originally designed,” Hamberger said.

APTA said it will work toward a bipartisan solution that continues and expands the “historic federal support” that’s necessary to address public transit needs, including a $90 billion backlog of the transit industry’s state-of-good repair needs.

“Funding public transportation projects is aligned with the administration’s focus on funding major transformative projects, supporting rural communities, streamlining the federal permitting and approval processes, and investing in a high-skilled, competitive workforce,” APTA said. “We are encouraged by specific provisions in the proposal related to public transportation, including streamlining, preserving and expanding the CIG pilot program and eliminating constraints on private-public partnerships.”

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