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January 25, 2017 1:00 PM, EST
Trump Team Compiles Infrastructure Priority List
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s team has compiled a list of about 50 infrastructure projects nationwide, totaling at least $137.5 billion, as the new White House tries to determine its investment priorities, according to documents obtained by McClatchy’s Kansas City Star and The News Tribune.

The documents, circulated within the congressional and business communities, offer a first glimpse at which projects around the country might get funding if Trump follows through on his campaign promise to renew America’s crumbling highways, airports, dams and bridges.

Among the projects could be a new terminal for the Kansas City airport, upgrades to Interstate 95 in North Carolina and the construction of a high-speed railway from Dallas to Houston.

The document obtained by the Star proposes funding the projects as public-private partnerships, with half the money coming from private investment.

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The Trump team put together the priority list of “Emergency & National Security Projects,” a senior congressional aide said. It includes cost estimates and job impact numbers.

It is not clear if that document is a draft or a final version. The National Governors Association circulated a similar list as a spreadsheet among state officials in December, requesting further suggestions. All but two projects on both lists are the same.

Some projects governors suggested — in California and Washington state in particular — do not yet appear on either list.

The governors association has received 43 responses from states and territories so far, said Elena Waskey, a spokeswoman for the association.

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“The total number of projects is more than 300,” Waskey said. “We are working to convene information for as many states as possible that we will then forward to the administration.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Among the projects listed is a $10 billion proposal to replace the nation’s radar-based air traffic control system with one called NextGen, based on satellites. The document estimates the project could create 2,300 direct jobs.

Some states, such as Missouri, have more than one project listed, while others appear to have come up empty. Neither document lists any projects in Kansas, for example.

The National Governors Association asked governors’ offices last month for input on a preliminary list of infrastructure projects compiled by the Trump team, said Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

“They seek examples of priority infrastructure projects that might be incorporated into a future infrastructure investment program,” said the letter from the governors association, dated Dec. 16. “Specifically, the transition team is looking for three to five project suggestions from each state that they would vet for inclusion in a new program.”

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The letter said the vetting would be done by a bipartisan infrastructure commission overseeing investments.

“The initial spend on these projects for 2017 is expected to be $150 billion, and the transition team hopes that this type of project will be continued over the next two years,” according to the letter.

The letter also noted that any contributions governors made would not be binding, and that this was “just an initial information-gathering request.”

“There will be a more formal process for states to submit information,” the letter said, once the Trump administration was in office. “Projects will be chosen through a more formal process as well.”

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It already had the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport expansion on it, so Inslee sent a letter back to the association with five additional possibilities for federal investment.

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office sent nine examples of big shovel-ready projects in California, including the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project and Bay Area Commuter and Freight Projects.

The projects have to meet specific criteria:

• A national security or public safety “emergency.”

• “Shovel-ready” with at least 30% of initial design and engineering work complete.

• Direct job creator.

• Project with the potential for increased U.S. manufacturing.

The governors association’s letter included a list of projects being vetted, with the request that governors use it as a model for submissions.

That preliminary list appears to be similar to the document obtained by McClatchy’s Star, with two differences: The preliminary list includes the Alaska Pipeline & LNG Project instead of the Texas Central Railway and it lists the Fort Mojave Solar Project instead of the Howard Street Tunnel.

Both the preliminary list and the more detailed document obtained by the Star includes a new terminal for Kansas City International Airport. It says the project would cost $972 million and generate 1,000 jobs.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens declined to comment.

The Kansas City airport is one of three airport projects on the Trump team’s document. The others are expansions of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

“The business case for a new terminal was bolstered after Southwest and the other airlines told the City Council on April 26 that they would finance the nearly $1 billion new terminal, to be built where Terminal A is now,” reads the document’s description for KCI, which lifts word-for-word a passage in a June 24 article in the Star.

In North Carolina, the I-95 project would provide urgent improvements to one of the oldest sections of the busiest interstate in the nation, according to the document. The cost is listed at $1.5 billion, and the project would produce an estimated 5,400 jobs, the document says.

The 250-mile high-speed railway in Texas would enable commuters to travel between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in less than 90 minutes, according to the document. It is a $12 billion proposal that would create 40,000 direct jobs, the document says.

Other proposals include I-395 reconstruction in Florida and a Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project designed to conserve billions of gallons of renewable groundwater in California’s Mojave Desert.

Senate Democrats on Jan. 24 proposed their own $1 trillion plan to fund infrastructure projects over a 10-year period. Democrats say their proposal would create more than 15 million jobs.

(Horsley and Vockrodt of The Kansas City Star reported from Kansas City, Missouri. Orenstein of The News Tribune reported from Tacoma, Washington. Wise of McClatchy’s Washington Bureau reported from Washington. Anita Kumar of McClatchy’s Washington Bureau contributed to this report from Washington.)