House Democrats propose their own infrastructure plan
House Democrats introduced their own infrastructure plan Wednesday as lawmakers await further details on President Donald Trump's expected $1 trillion spend, according to The Hill.
The New Democrat Coalition's "fund it, fix it and foster it" strategy would use repatriated taxes to fund infrastructure and seek long-term revenue streams for the Highway Trust Fund. The proposal would also implement an expedited permitting process, broaden the definition of infrastructure and encourage the use of public-private partnerships (P3s).
Trump has said he would deliver the details of his infrastructure plan no later than this fall, but he has yet to release them. The president recently walked back a key tenet of his campaign, however, pulling his support for private spending on public infrastructure and stating P3s are "more trouble than they're worth."
No matter where the money comes from, lawmakers must address the fact that the nation's infrastructure is in need of repair and modernization. The most recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said it would cost $4.6 trillion by 2025 to make the necessary upgrades. That figure represents an increase of $1 trillion since the ASCE's last report, in 2013. Failure to close the gap could cost the country millions of jobs and trillions in gross domestic product over the next 10 years, the ASCE noted in a 2016 report.
The news isn't much better from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). In a February study, the group found that while the number of structurally deficient bridges decreased slightly between 2015 and 2016, there were still 55,710 bridges — about 9% of the country's total — in need of significant repairs. ARTBA's chief economist told U.S. News & World Report earlier this year that it would take more than $700 billion to bring American bridges up to an acceptable standard.
Meanwhile, states are taking infrastructure repair into their own hands. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced the state would embark on the biggest North American highway P3 to date. The $9 billion expansion of three major highways connecting Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia would see the P3 design, finance, build, operate and maintain two parts of the expansion with the goal of increasing traffic flow in the congested area.
Los Angeles County, too, is eyeing P3s for three transit projects. Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials hope the delivery method will spur innovation from the private sector and help those projects reach completion more quickly.
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