President-elect Donald Trump will take office having campaigned on an ambitious promise to begin tackling our nation’s massive need for comprehensive investment in infrastructure. While we are still awaiting specifics in terms of priorities and financing, there is broad consensus that fixing and improving infrastructure will have clear economic benefits, both to individuals in terms of jobs created and to businesses in terms of improving the flow of commerce.
Trump has always conceived of himself as a builder. It is at the core of his identity. Now is the opportunity to demonstrate that we can accomplish great, transformative projects for the American people in a bipartisan manner.
We are at an inflection point when it comes to infrastructure. With the rapid advance of technology, there are possibilities and opportunities that did not exist when most of our major infrastructure was first built. In looking to upgrade, we need to modernize as well, through innovation such as sensors on roads that monitor traffic and can help ease congestion, and “smart” and interactive utilities that can save power by allowing people to better modulate energy use and communicate their needs so that the grid can respond more precisely and conserve when use is lower.
Now is the opportunity to demonstrate that we can accomplish great, transformative projects for the American people in a bipartisan manner.
There has been too narrow a focus on “shovel ready” projects. Investments must be made in the infrastructure of the future, not in simply continuing what we’re doing now. The next administration should have an overarching vision for what it will take to move us forward and modernize the entire system of how we move people and goods through the air, ground and water, as well as how we transmit energy and information.
The Bipartisan Policy Center projects $1.7 trillion in current surface transportation investment needs, $126 billion in airport needs, and $30 billion in needs for our ports and inland waterways. According to a 2014 analysis by the National Economic Council and President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, 65 percent of America’s major roads are rated in less than good condition, one in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle its traffic load, and 45 percent of Americans lack access to transit.