Trump: Infrastructure improvement ‘is a necessity’

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As he did about a year ago, President Donald Trump included improving the nation’s infrastructure in Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address to Congress.

Major trucking organizations and Trump’s Secretary of Transportation have voiced their support for improving bridges and highways. But, some observers say Trump’ speech was shy on specifics, especially when it comes to funding.

“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” said Trump. “I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said after Trump’s speech, “Tonight the President issued a bipartisan call to repair and restore America’s aging infrastructure. Over the last two years, due to the President’s policies, our economy has generated historic levels of economic and job growth for Americans and widespread private sector investment. This success is enabled by America’s transportation sector, but aging and insufficient infrastructure threatens to impede future growth.”

Two of the leading trucking associations agreed on the need for improvements.

The Truckload Carriers Association today said:

“TCA agrees with President Trump that both parties in Congress need to unite to produce an infrastructure plan that will rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. This should be the priority for 2019. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to make infrastructure reform finally happen this year.”

The American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement:

“Tonight President Trump called for a national, bipartisan effort to restore our country’s declining infrastructure — and America’s truckers are answering that call. A win on this issue will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as tried in years past. That is why America’s truckers, along with a broad coalition of the business community, have pledged our financial commitment to making this national priority a reality.”

While all parties agree work must be done, there is no consensus on how to pay for it.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-Oregon 4th District), Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee said improving infrastructure requires addressing what he called the “looming crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund” to help pay for improvements.

“Any serious infrastructure proposal must provide sustainable, long-term federal funding so we can make these necessary investments, create millions of living-wage American jobs, increase economic growth, and decrease congestion and emissions. I will work to build bipartisan agreement around legislation, but I can’t do it alone. This will require massive effort from the White House, stakeholders, and supporters in Congress to get something real across the finish line.”

DeFazio’s committee is scheduled to begin hearings on infrastructure yet this week.

The American Society of Civil Engineers said the U.S. needs to spend $4.5 trillion by 2025 to improve highways, bridges, ports, dams, water systems, schools, and the nation’ power grid. The association’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of D+, the same as it did in 2013.