President Trump did not go into specifics of an infrastructure plan, but said it should be at least $1.5 trillion. (File photo)

Trump calls for $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, faster permitting at State of Union

Jan. 31, 2018
President Trump called on Congress to produce an infrastructure bill with a price tag of at least $1.5 trillion and to ease the regulatory review process during

President Trump called on Congress to produce an infrastructure bill of at least $1.5 trillion, and to ease the regulatory review process during his first State of the Union address.

He said the effort to modernize every aspect of the nation’s infrastructure is what “our economy needs and people deserve.”

Reuters reported details of the long-teased proposal are expected to be released in mid-February. A leaked memo on the plan hinted at additional tolling of interstate highways, a position generally opposed by freight transportation backers.

During the speech, Trump requested each federal dollar be "leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit."

Trump noted the Empire State Building was constructed in one year, and called it “a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a minor permit approved for the building a simple road.” He called on the permitting process “to be no more than two years – and perhaps even one.”

American Trucking Associations, vocal supporters of Trump through the successful tax reform push, tweeted during the speech it stands “ready to carry a solution for infrastructure forward.”

“Roads are not a partisan issue – they’re driven on by Republicans and Democrats alike,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of ATA, said in a statement after the speech. “As both sides of Capitol Hill know, modernizing our infrastructure will require a substantial investment – actual, real revenue. America cannot be rebuilt with funding gimmicks and finance schemes.”

ATA has touted raising fuel taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, an idea that continues to find little support in Congress. The group also said that while “public-private partnerships might work for some modes like airports, but they are not a viable solution for the vast majority of roads and bridges.”

Meanwhile on trade, Trump said his administration will continue to seek deals that are “fair, and very importantly, reciprocal.”

While not specifically naming any trade pact, he said bad ones “shift away our companies, our jobs, and our wealth.”

He added: “The era of economic surrender is totally over.”

While Trump is not expected to take his State of the Union message on the road this week, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit truck dealership Worldwide Equipment Inc. in West Virginia on Jan. 31.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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