AASHTO Journal

Trump Says Some Infrastructure Ideas Coming in Jan. 30 State of Union Speech

​President Trump told a group of mayors that he would give some insight into his pending infrastructure investment plan in his Jan. 30 "State of the Union" speech to Congress, and that his administration would "probably" unveil the entire plan soon after.

"We'll probably be putting that in a week or two, right after the State of the Union address," he said Jan. 24. "We'll be talking about it a little bit in the State of the Union; we'll put that in."

He reiterated that the plan would aim to "rebuild our crumbling infrastructure by stimulating a $1 trillion investment," and said the final investment it generates "will actually, probably, end up being about $1.7 trillion."

News agencies said that was the first time Trump had mentioned the higher total.

whouselogo.jpgMeanwhile, stakeholder groups have both welcomed the administration's continued emphasis on boosting project investment and closing a funding gap, but cautioned that reports the plan would heavily depend on leveraging lots more state, local and private investment would miss a chance to generate the kind of infrastructure improvements the nation needs.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is among those saying that many states and communities have already been increasing their own transportation spending, but that more direct federal funding is needed.

Using federal funds as a lure to spur more state and federal investment, AASHTO officials say, would leave out many states and rural areas that cannot afford major public-private partnerships.

AASHTO has said its top priority is to see Congress and the president shore up the Highway Trust Fund by giving it more dedicated revenue to close a funding gap and make it solvent for many years to come. The nation's main infrastructure fund is on course to run short of money as soon as 2021 unless Congress acts before then.

In addition, the HTF mainly disburses highway and transit funding to states and agencies through set formulas, which AASHTO says is the fairest and most effective way to deploy federal project funding and leaves key project selection decisions to state and local officials instead of federal officials.

Reports that the administration might consider such option as commercializing interstate highway rest areas has drawn fire from the travel plaza industry that has built up a network of facilities off those roads.

And both truck-stop operators and the trucking industry opposes ideas to allow more tolling of existing interstates by states instead of raising federal revenues to improve infrastructure.

The American Trucking Associations, which represents cargo fleet operators, reiterated its proposal to increase motor fuel taxes by 20 cents a gallon over four years and assess it at the wholesale level, to generate $340 billion more over a decade.

The ATA said under its plan the new revenue "will not only cover the highway funding gap, but also create an account to invest in the nation's most urgent infrastructure needs, including projects at the state and local level."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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