Our leaders in Washington can’t solve any of our nation’s problems unless they have strong public support—that’s democracy. That is also why the GAIN Coalition is working to raise awareness of the dire state of our country’s infrastructure.
A study was released today by international communications firm Brodeur Partners that suggests a need to “create more public urgency” on our country’s infrastructure. The firm surveyed 1,000 Americans, all of whom voted in the 2016 presidential election—and almost none of whom understand the importance of quick action to improve our roads, bridges, waterways, electric grid and more.
In fact, the voters in this survey awarded our nation’s infrastructure with A and B grades, while the American Society for Civil Engineers gives it a D+.
We have written lately about several new pushes by President Trump to help spur infrastructure revitalization: his speech this week announcing plans to invest in digital infrastructure in rural areas, and his big ‘Infrastructure Week’ just a couple of weeks prior. It is great that this issue is taking the forefront of political dialogue in Washington and beyond, but unfortunately we need more than that.
Voters need to feel the same urgency that President Trump has expressed if our national infrastructure is going to see real action. Lack of public awareness on the threats that our crumbling infrastructure poses to our national security and economic competitiveness could be one of the few roadblocks to change—after all, infrastructure revitalization has bipartisan support.
This new study confirms that there is still much more to be done to get our elected leaders in states and in Washington to act on our infrastructure problems—and it all starts with their constituents.
The Michigan Department of Transportation recently announced that they have taken the next steps in their modernization project of I-94 in Detroit. A notice of intent was published in the Federal Register, showing their plan to produce a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.
The project was originally discussed in the 1990’s, but lacked the funding to move forward. It was approved in 2004, but no progress was made until 2015 when local officials realized their eleven-year-old plan was insufficient. A lack of funding and hindering permit processes had left the project in limbo for decades, underscoring the neglect our nation’s infrastructure has suffered and highlighting the importance of significant investment and reform.
The modernization project will create new through lanes in both directions on the highway, modernize a number of interchanges, and replace more than 60 bridges by the time it is completed.
The I-94 project is just one example of the thousands of project’s across the country that are in desperate need of revitalization. Repairing our roads and bridges is vital to the success of the our country, and Detroit’s push to modernize I-94 is a prime example of project’s that can be identified to help spur investment and create more job opportunities.
While construction is not expected to begin until 2020 or 2021, bridges such as the Van Dyke, Woodward, and Trumbull are already being repaired as part of the broader project.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a ruling on the Dakota Access pipeline Thursday which said the Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider impacts of an oil spill in the Missouri River. The Army Corps of Engineers must now redo its environmental impact analysis on certain areas of the pipeline route. GAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement in response:
“In his decision, Judge Boasberg disposed of nearly all of the Tribes’ claims and the handful that remain do nothing to impact the ongoing operation of the pipeline nor do they undermine the work of the more than 8,000 individuals across the four states who built it. The Dakota Access Pipeline remains one of the safest – if not the safest – pipeline ever constructed. And while we have little doubt that the Corps will ultimately be successful in satisfying the Court’s concerns, tonight’s decision continues the public saga of the project and jeopardizes ongoing infrastructure investment. Our nation is in dire need of infrastructure improvements, but unfortunately the threat of extended litigation and lost investment could quash the private capital required to build these large scale projects. This not only damages our nation’s productivity, but also threatens our economy and the effort to create jobs. We remain hopeful that the Corps – as well as other state and federal regulatory agencies – will continue their dedicated work to ensure these necessary projects are appropriately permitted.”
Following last week’s White House infrastructure summit, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu met with President Trump and cabinet officials to further discuss the President’s infrastructure initiative. Governor Sununu commented that he felt convinced the President’s plan would find support on Capitol Hill given the strong bipartisan nature and vital need for improving our country’s infrastructure network.
“We have a President who is a builder, someone who not only knows how to get things done and bring plans to fruition but also someone who has faced how federal agencies can slow down or even block his progress,” Sununu said.
Sununu’s father, former Governor John Sununu, also attempted to expand a New Hampshire highway to eight lanes in the mid-80’s, a major transportation infrastructure project that was expected to cost $200 million. Due to permitting delays, construction for that project still has not begun nearly thirty years later. It is now projected to cost $812 million.
Governor Sununu emphasized the need to expedite the permitting process for infrastructure projects. Wading through mountains of burdensome regulations takes an incredible amount of time and unnecessarily delays projects. Cutting through these crushing regulations and speeding up the permitting process is a vital step for the future of American infrastructure.
President Trump welcomed officials from across the nation at the White House last Thursday, June 8th to discuss the need to begin a national dialogue on repairing the state of America’s decaying infrastructure. The President discussed the punishingly burdensome regulations that prevent projects from receiving permits required to begin construction. He also reiterated his goal to reduce permit wait times from ten years or more, to two years or fewer through removing these needless roadblocks.
Vice President Pence lauded the bipartisan attendance and support for infrastructure reform. Eight Governors, eleven mayors, five county commissioners, two tribal leaders, and two agriculture commissioners were present. With support on both sides of the aisle, the long neglected roads, railways and bridges of America should finally receive the attention they deserve, and the President’s push is a tremendous step in that direction.
The GAIN Coalition is eager to see the Trump Administration’s efforts to begin the important process of involving the entire country in its infrastructure plan. Crafting a national consensus on the need to revamp and repair crumbled American bridges, roads and more puts the country in a position to prosper and grow. A commitment that crosses state boundaries is paramount to improving the status of infrastructure in our country.
Senseless regulations have long restricted the growth of American businesses, and experts have estimated these regulations cost the American tax payer up to $2 trillion each year. Despite media focus on other issues, the Trump Administration has made great progress in removing these suffocating regulations.
Federal agencies often produce mandates without data to support their requirements, which results in stifling regulations that do nothing to serve the industries they are meant to help. For example, the head of the Association of American Railroads notes that trains are required to have two person crews, despite no data showing this reduces human-error accidents.
It is precisely these sorts of regulations that restrict growth of American business. The recent trend in favor of outcome-based regulations, which would provide a goal to industries and allow them to determine the best way to accomplishing said goal, is an indicator that American regulatory standards are on track to promote prosperity and growth in the future. Steve Forbes brings up these issues in his latest blog for Fox News, and he discusses the role outcome based performance standards are the superior path towards prosperous America.
The Revamping American Infrastructure Act of 2017, which is currently before Congress, would explicitly require a transition from prescriptive to outcome based regulations wherever possible.
The highly anticipated new Goethals bridge is set to open in stages this weekend, replacing the old bridge, which first opened in 1928 and connected New Jersey and Staten Island for nearly a century.
“This is the first major, new bridge erected in New Jersey in decades and it was long overdue, as anyone who navigated the old Goethals Bridge can attest,” Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement.
This is the first new Port Authority bridge erected since the 1930s, a clear example of the decline our nation’s infrastructure has suffered. The old Goethals bridge was a dangerous relic, with traffic lanes originally designed in the 1920’s for a long retired generation of automobiles. Projects like this have been long overdue, and are often unable to acquire sufficient funding from the public sector alone.
The new bridge was accomplished using a public-private partnership for both funding and construction, which Governor Christie said resulted in a “swifter project completion than had we relied solely on the public sector.”
This public-private partnership is a wonderful framework for the future of American infrastructure. Through such agreements we will be able to both repair and build crumbling roads, bridges, and waterways, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
A second Goethals bridge is currently under construction and is set to be completed in 2018.
President Trump was in Cincinnati this week where he highlighted the state of our nation’s infrastructure and his plan to devote $1 trillion toward infrastructure revitalization. The President called for bipartisan support, urging both sides of the aisle to assist in what he called “the great rebuilding of America.”
Investment in infrastructure development is an issue that has broad bipartisan support. GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens noted in an interview recently with Ohio radio host Scott Sloan that there is no reason that party politics should get in the way of an infrastructure plan that would put thousands of Americans to work and bring our country’s airports, roads, pipelines, and more up to date to compete and work in the 21st century economy.
President Trump’s plan would allocate $200 billion in federal funding over the next ten years, and expects to attract private investments to bring the total to $1 trillion. Trump’s visit to Ohio shows the importance of directing federal dollars to areas that will help revitalize the American economy and help move our country forward as we seek ways to re-start our manufacturing and construction sectors and bring more jobs back home.
Infrastructure improvements, coupled with smart reforms of the regulatory sector, can help support the American worker and consumer. President Trump stated that, “the federal government will drastically reduce burdensome regulations,” which have long restrained the growth and improvement of American infrastructure.
The GAIN coalition supports the President’s plan to streamline permit approval and reduce regulatory burdens, as we seek to attract private infrastructure investments and support public projects.
Washington, D.C. – President Trump is expected to visit the Cincinnati area tomorrow to discuss the need for a major investment in our nation’s infrastructure. This is part of his effort to promote $1 trillion in public and private infrastructure development. The members of the GAIN Coalition (Grow America’s Infrastructure Now) applaud the President’s vision to make America stronger by investing in upgrading our nation’s infrastructure.
“We applaud President Trump’s vision to encourage investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will enhance our country’s productivity, create thousands of jobs, and unleash the potential of the American economy. Today in Ohio there are thousands of people working on energy, telecom, water, and highway infrastructure projects – this should just be the start,” said GAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens. “There are hundreds of projects in Ohio and across the country in dire need of upgrades or replacements. Successful large scale infrastructure projects are the result of private and public financing and a regulatory system that provides certainty to those individuals and companies that are willing to risk their capital. We look forward to working with President Trump and others to support his $1 Trillion infrastructure investment goal.”
About GAIN: Grow America’s Infrastructure Now is a diverse coalition of businesses, trade associations, and labor groups that share a vested interest in creating jobs and strengthening our nation’s economy through infrastructure development.