February 12, 2018
The White House has released the long-awaited infrastructure plan (available here). Here are some highlights:
- Part 1 of the outline discusses the establishment of an Incentives Program to attract new non-federal revenue for infrastructure improvements. $100 billion in funding for the program would be divided in specific amounts for the Department of Transportation, United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Each agency would solicit applications for the available funds every six months. Those applications would be evaluated and scored by a weighted system.
- Creation of a Rural Infrastructure Program. Projects would include transportation, high-speed data transmission, water and waste/ power transmission, and flood control. $50 billion in funding for the rural plan would be made available, with 80 percent of the funds provided to each state's governor, who with the assistance of federal and state agency directors, choose how the money would be used, specifically in areas with populations of less than 50,000.
- A Transformative Projects Program would have $20 billion to transform the way infrastructure is delivered or operated, with heavy emphasis on new technologies.
- The Department of the Interior would have the Interior Maintenance Fund under which half of the money generated from energy sources taken from public lands and waters would be used to maintain systems in national parks and wildlife refuges.
- States would be given the right to toll interstate highways and reinvest those funds for surface transportation projects. States would also have the flexibility to commercialize interstate rest areas to generate new revenue.
- The plan calls for raise the cost threshold for major projects to $1 billion from the current $500 million minimum.
- The plan calls for establishing a “One Agency, One Decision” Environmental Review Structure which would eliminate duplicate or redundant reviewing processes.
- To address the skilled labor shortage, the plan calls for Pell Grants to be made available for short-term programs that lead to a credential or certification in an in-demand field. In addition, licensing requirements for workers on infrastructure projects would be broadened to include workers with out-of-state trade licenses