We have written recently about the poor state of American infrastructure in our rural communities. Roads, bridges, and power lines across the country were built in the 1950s and 60s with a 50-year lifespan. And in most cases, they haven’t been updated since. This mounting neglect could affect thousands of Americans, but it should soon be coming to an end.
According to reports from The Hill, the Department of Transportation is making significant changes to one of its programs in order to prioritize funding the revitalization of rural infrastructure. The FASTLANE (Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) program has been renamed and changed to the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. This is positive news to show that the Administration strongly believes in the need to update our infrastructure system and is an exciting first step in the process.
In 2016, Congress approved $4.5 billion to support it existing projects, and new projects will share $1.5 billion. With the new changes made by President Trump, a full quarter of the funds for this program will be earmarked to go towards construction of infrastructure in rural communities. Funding of this sort is extremely important, because rural communities have found it difficult to attract private investments.
This plan is hoping to change that, actually, as the updated grant guidelines try to leverage funding into additional private investments. It will give some insight into how President Trump hopes to pursue his $1 trillion infrastructure plan. One way to do that is by incentivizing public-private partnerships as a way to help with infrastructure projects. The framework used here provides an example for what we hope to see moving forward – federal funding being used to attract investments from local communities and private investors.
For too long our rural communities have been neglected and overlooked by Washington, left out in the cold. Now we see legitimate steps being taken to remedy that oversight, and the GAIN coalition is proud to see the Trump administration taking steps to help Americans who have been so long ignored. We are excited for these infrastructure projects to begin, and fully support expanding it further to help all Americans, and to bring our infrastructure to its former glory.