As the discussion about infrastructure heats up in Washington, we need to make sure that we’re focused on the proper issues. We can’t just focus on a dollar amount for investment. That is, it is not sufficient to throw money at our infrastructure issues. Funding is important, but we need a focus on rewriting regulations and to make sure that industries are able to properly invest in their own infrastructure.
Take the freight rail industry, for example. The 1980s saw the removal of red tape that had hindered the industry for decades. This regulatory reform made it far easier for the freight rail industry to invest in their infrastructure. In fact, since then they have privately poured more than $630 billion into improving America’s railway system. This has allowed the rail industry to become competitive with other means of transport, and led to the creation of the safest railway system in the world.
The success of the rail industry over the past 40 years should be used as an example for Congress of how a common-sense approach to regulations can help America’s crumbling infrastructure. While increased funding is vital and necessary, it needs to be coupled with a change to the regulatory process that incentivizes private investments. Putting more funding into the same system would be a failure to fully capitalize on this important opportunity.
The GAIN coalition has been excited in recent months as the poor state of America’s infrastructure has been discussed more and more. We are incredibly excited for President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, as well as the recent steps taken to simplify the permitting process for new projects. These are tremendous and encouraging first steps, and the GAIN coalition hopes they are the first of many to come.