An address to Congress on Jan. 30 meant to reveal President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority for the year turned into a reminder of the quick work on a New York City iconic landmark nearly a century ago.
“We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?” Trump asked during his first State of the Union address, in which he called on Congress to produce a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that also would streamline project permitting to two years. That plan would be anchored by $200 billion in direct federal funds.
Trump’s rhetoric again reinforced the notion that he is a master builder, yet, for some, his real estate pedigree suggests otherwise.
“Infrastructure is not the same as hotels and country clubs,” argued Mitchell Moss, director of Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
“There is a clear difference between building infrastructure and building housing, and hotels, and country clubs, which have been largely the responsibility of the private sector, as appropriately,” Moss told Transport Topics shortly after the State of the Union. “I think whatever he’s built has been really in the traditional role, you know, of hotels, country clubs — even then they had public sector support.”
Moss continued, “The roads, the highways, the bridges, the infrastructure for aviation has all had a complex set of funding responsibilities — but the federal government has been a participant in this, not the same as real estate developers.”
And, while Trump touts private sector investors as the likely partners on big-ticket infrastructure projects who could propel his plan all the way to the $1.5 trillion mark, Moss points out a White House plan anchored on $200 billion in federal funds may just not be enough.
“The transportation priorities that were laid out, which is that funding has to be shared by state and localities; private sector have a role in this — all of these are good, but I don’t know that this is [a] sufficient amount of money to do the job the nation needs,” he added, as we continue to wait for the White House to unveil its plan.
THE WEEK AHEAD (all times ET):
Feb. 6, 9 a.m.: The National Governors Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention host a policy forum at the National Press Club in Washington. Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council, is scheduled to participate.
Feb. 6, 2:30 p.m.: Senate Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee hosts a hearing titled, “Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Ways of Funding Government: Exploring the Cost to Taxpayers of Spending Uncertainty caused by Governing through Continuing Resolutions, Giant Omnibus Spending Bills, and Shutdown Crises.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
PILOT FLYING J: As federal prosecutors wrapped up their case against him Jan. 31, former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood opted not to testify or present witnesses on his own behalf.
TESLA: What would a carless car look like in a bizarro world.
PORT OF VIRGINIA: The port will launch an online appointment system for trucking companies visiting the Norfolk International Terminals beginning March 1, a decision the port authority there hopes will accelerate the supply chain by shortening turn times.
Key stakeholders continue to meet with senior Commerce Committee members on the need for outlining policy on autonomous technology for trucks, sources tell Transport Topics.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
The quest for Amazon’s second headquarters continues. “The HQ2 Hunger Games have begun,” by Sarah Holder in CityLab.
Part of the reason, I think, we’re not seeing the administration plan until mid-February is ’cause they have to release, though they want to release, a budget first because that would show where the $200 billion is coming from. If we’re just taking money from other places in the budget, it makes no sense to tout this as a trillion-and-a-half [dollar] infrastructure plan.
Marcia Hale, president of Building America’s Future, speaking to Transport Topics on Jan. 31
Live and direct.
From the account of the Chairman of the House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee: