Trump's Infrastructure Plan: Red State Roadbuilders Can Party Like It's 1959

credit: Wisconsin Historical society

But for everyone else it is a big nothingburger.

This is a first draft and will be updated as more information and opinion becomes available.

It is no surprise that Donald Trump's infrastructure plan would favor rural areas over cities; his tax plan disproportionately hit blue states too. He calls it a $1.5 trillion plan, but most of that is going to be raised with state and private partners, and the government would put up $ 200 billion.

There is $50 billion for rural highways, but when it comes to big expensive projects like the Gateway Tunnel to Manhattan, the Feds will only contribute if the State can find 80 or 90 percent through tolls or taxes. As Curbed notes,

Because the plan shifts the financial burden from the federal government onto states and localities, relying on incentives to spur private investment, major projects will struggle to find funding....“With the proposal they made, it’s hard to see how you could build Gateway,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said on Sunday. “I’m worried about the infrastructure bill because instead of the federal government doing what it’s done since 1820 — putting money to build highways, roads — they’re going to say ‘let the private sector do it.’"

There is $100 billion for "grants to spur extra funds from states and the private sector. The White House says the money would be aimed at projects like airports, passenger rail, drinking water facilities and Superfund sites." But this will only cover a small portion of the costs, and as the Washington Post explains, these are not your usual public/private partnership.

Let’s be clear on what this kind of public-private partnership isn’t. In normal circumstances, the government decides it needs a new bridge, so it hires Joe’s Construction to build it. But the bridge still belongs to the government; we just have to pay maintenance costs. In the kind of “partnership” the Trump administration wants more of, the government decides it needs a new bridge, so it gives PriveCo Equity Partners a gigantic tax incentive to build the bridge, which the company now owns — and which will charge tolls on in perpetuity.

Infrastructure plan/Screen capture

This requirement for "Value Capture Financing" is ridiculous. It assumes that the increased value of property near transit improvements can be easily calculated. To make it a requirement might make it impossible to ever build transit.


Infrastructure Plan/Video screen capture

Historic buildings may soon be festooned with cellular antennae as any restrictions on their placement is removed.


Infrastructure plan/Screen capture

Environmental protections are cut back, delegated or just cancelled outright. All these restrictions reduce efficiency so there are proposals aimed at:

  • Establishing a “One Agency, One Decision” Environmental Review Structure
  • Reducing Inefficiencies in Preserving Publicly Owned Land and Historic Properties
  • Reducing Inefficiencies in Protecting Clean Air
  • Reducing Inefficiencies in the Magnuson Stevens Act
  • Protecting Clean Water with Greater Efficiency
  • Reducing Inefficiencies in Environmental Reviews
  • Reduce Uncertainty by Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to Review and Approve Permits for Pipelines Crossing Lands Administered by the National Parks Service

Make America Efficient Again!

The biggest deal in the budget is that the Feds are offloading most of the cost to the States, who don't have any money and usually depend on the Feds to pay for 80 percent of the projects. So it's likely that other than $50 billion in concrete and asphalt for nice new roads in red states, not much infrastructure will get built out of this.