(Editor's note: Investment in critical infrastructure is gaining increased attention at the federal, state, and local levels around the U.S. Engineering360 presents an ongoing series of articles that look at projects, approaches, technologies, and engineering challenges that lie at the heart of this push to modernize existing infrastructure and build for future needs.)
A recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds broad agreement among voters for infrastructure investment. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said they want more federal investment in infrastructure, and 73% said the federal government should take the lead role.
Respondents also indicated that investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure would help strengthen the economy. Some 70% said it would help American businesses, and 74% said it would create jobs.
The Chamber says that 64% of respondents said they want Congress to move forward now with an infrastructure package, including 67% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans.
In remarks given to mark Infrastructure Week during the week of May 15, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that the Trump administration's infrastructure plan will include $200 billion in direct federal funds. She said these funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is identifying offsets to these expenditures to make them "revenue neutral."
Chao said the White House launched a consultation process, including setting up an interagency task force of 16 different federal government department and agencies, including Transportation, OMB, Treasury, Commerce, Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture, Labor, Energy, the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Council of Environmental Quality, the Education department and others.
During the consultation process, Chao said that investors said repeatedly that ample capital is available to invest in infrastructure.
"A major problem," she said, "is the delays caused by government permitting and approval processes, which hold up projects for years, even decades." Chao said the infrastructure plan will include "common-sense regulatory, administrative, organizational, and policy changes to speed project delivery and reduce uncertainty."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will urge legislative action on infrastructure spending on three principles:
- Any legislative package should use a variety of funding mechanisms, and where possible, existing federal programs.
- Any funding and financing plan should be accompanied by reforms that increase accountability, expedite regulatory processes, and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.
- A new infrastructure plan should "lean heavily" on a long-term sustainable funding source to secure the future of U.S. infrastructure for years to come.
It is our fervent hope that our leaders in Washington, D.C. will soon hear this clear call from all across the country: It’s time to rebuild America.