May 22, 2017 3:00 PM, EDT

Senators Unveil Infrastructure Financing Legislation

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

Legislation that would establish an infrastructure investment bank that would facilitate access to private capital for new bridges, tunnels and freight corridors was unveiled recently by a group of senators.

Under the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment, or BRIDGE, Act, an independent financing authority would be established to provide loans and loan guarantees for states and municipalities seeking to build infrastructure projects. The self-sustaining authority would be initiated with $10 billion designed to incentivize private-sector investment. That capital ideally would result in $300 billion in investments.

“We must think boldly and make real investments in our nation’s infrastructure rather than kick the can down the road with short-term fixes,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the bill’s co-sponsor, said on May 17. “The BRIDGE Act offers a bold, bipartisan solution to help address our infrastructure needs by incentivizing private investment and pairing it with public resources. This legislation will set a clear framework that will help create jobs, expand U.S. commerce and trade and keep American businesses competitive.”

“This bipartisan bill will provide much-needed resources to strengthen infrastructure and help ensure Missouri’s farmers, manufacturers and small businesses are able to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a co-sponsor, added. 

A consortium of roadbuilding and construction firms praised the legislation.

“All options, including alternative project delivery and finance methods like the BRIDGE Act, to address the nation's infrastructure deficit need to be considered as well. The BRIDGE Act represents an innovative approach that would provide the ability to support nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects that require innovative financing outside the existing core federal programs,” noted the Transportation Construction Coalition, which represents 31 national associations and construction trade unions.

The legislation was referred to a committee of jurisdiction. A hearing for its consideration has not been scheduled. President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a $1 trillion bill that would invest in infrastructure projects.