Infrastructure Priorities Under the Trump Administration
Date: February 23, 2017
One of the Trump administration’s central policy goals is a broad initiative to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, which would have a robust impact on the construction industry, federal spending and the use of public-private partnerships. While the specific contours of the proposed infrastructure plan will take time to develop, recent developments have shed light on some of the details.
First, a document circulating online purports to list the specific projects that will be prioritized by the Trump administration. McClatchy’s Washington Bureau reported on January 24, 2017 that an “infrastructure priority list” had been provided by the Trump transition team to the National Governors Association. The list consists of a series of one-page descriptions of “Emergency & National Security Projects” across the country, ranging from roads and bridges to energy grid upgrades. The projects, 50 in total at an estimated cost of $137.5 billion, draw upon a diverse range of geographical locations and dimensions of infrastructure, including:
- Locks and Dams 52 and 53 on the Ohio River (est. $3 billion)
- 15 bridges on I-95 near Philadelphia (est. $8 billion)
- TransWest Express Transition, an electric transmission line project in the American Southwest (est. $3 billion)
- New terminal at the Kansas City Airport (est. $972 million)
- Red and Purple Line modernization, Chicago (est. $2.1 billion)
Although the particulars of financing for these projects are still largely unknown, the Trump administration may advocate for the use of public-private partnerships (P3) as a method for advancing its infrastructure goals. In a white paper published by the Trump team during the campaign, the use of tax breaks for P3 investors was floated as an idea for spurring investment in infrastructure. It is unknown whether other P3 financing approaches, such as long-term revenue generation on toll road projects, could be utilized.
In addition to this specific list of projects, on January 24, 2017 the White House issued Executive Order 13755, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects.” The order calls for the identification of high priority infrastructure projects by the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within 30 days of a request by the governor of a state or the head of any executive department or agency. For any project designated as high priority, the order requires the chairman of the CEQ to “… coordinate with the head of the relevant agency to establish, in a manner consistent with law, expedited procedures and deadlines for the completion of environmental reviews and approvals for such projects.” The order states that “[a]ll agencies shall give highest priority to completing such reviews and approvals by the established deadlines using all necessary and appropriate means.”
While these preliminary measures are unaccompanied by legislation, these steps signal a serious and specific intention of the Trump administration not only to commence a broad national infrastructure modernization project, but also to accelerate regulatory approval and permitting of such projects where possible.
We will continue to monitor, and the construction industry should pay close attention to, further development of these initiatives, as project opportunities could be forthcoming and wide-ranging.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information, please contact:
Jeffrey R. Appelbaum
Daniel M. Haymond
Benjamin B. McKelvey
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