Will Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Provide A #LIFT4MD?

Will President-elect Donald Trump’s professed commitment to infrastructure investment provide a Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland, and help Maryland’s roads, bridges, rails and pipes?

Trump’s vision for infrastructure investment, according to his website, would:

  • Transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains with a deficit-neutral plan targeting substantial new infrastructure investments. …
  • Leverage new revenues and work with financing authorities, public-private partnerships, and other prudent funding opportunities. …
  • Harness market forces to help attract new private infrastructure investments through a deficit-neutral system of infrastructure tax credits.

Maryland lawmakers and officials are hopeful, reports The Star Democrat. The article quotes State Highway Administrator Greg Johnson:

We have $14 billion worth of funds for the next six years, and our needs are $75 billion. So if they can help close that gap, we’re good.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn told The Star Democrat that it was too early to predict what effect the new president would have on Maryland’s transportation infrastructure:

We’ll know more, I think, when we see some of the selections for cabinet positions and what the philosophies are, because those cabinet secretaries then will be refining policies with the current president-elect.

According to commentary in the New York Times encouraging the President-elect to “build something awe-inspiring,” Dan McNichol, author of the book,  “The Roads That Built America” and a White House adviser on transportation issues for President George H. W. Bush, included two projects of significance to Maryland on his top ten list of infrastructure projects that a new Administration should pursue:

Northeast Corridor maglev
Cost: $100 billion

Traveling at 300 miles per hour on a cushion of air, magnetically levitated trains could cut the commute from New York to Washington to an hour and render the painfully slow Acela obsolete. …

Maryland Purple Line
Cost: $5.6 billion

The Washington metro area suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. Maryland wants to build more than 16 miles of light rail to link its suburbs to Washington’s existing Metro system (which needs extensive repairs) and Amtrak. Supporters say it would remove 17,000 cars each day from area roads.

It warrants mentioning that some are less hopeful than others. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, former President Obama and Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Ronald Klain warns that the President-elect’s infrastructure initiative is “a trap”  that directs tax cuts to private sector utility, construction and contractor industries, but neglects “desperately needed infrastructure projects that are not attractive to private investors — municipal water-system overhauls, repairs of existing roads, replacement of bridges that do not charge tolls” – i.e., local government infrastructure needs.

MACo Winter Conference attendees can focus on the questions surrounding local government infrastructure needs at the general session, “#LIFT4MD: Local Infrastructure Fast Track for Maryland.”

Description: We all know it: our fundamental infrastructure needs a lift. Join MACo in advocating for a #LIFT4MD to strengthen our roads, bridges, water mains, wastewater systems, and public structures. It’s one of the few points which can draw consensus from both sides of the aisle, from both public and private sectors, and from all levels of government. The questions remain on how to fund this investment, how to stretch our limited resources wisely, how to leverage this opportunity to best stimulate our economy, and how to target the greatest of our many needs. In this session, experts will discuss the challenges involved and how we might begin to answer these questions and more about our local infrastructure funding options.

Speakers:

  • Joel Griffith, Esq., Deputy Research Director, NACo
  • Rudy Chow, P.E., Director, Baltimore City Department of Public Works
  • Theresa McClure, ENVSP, Regional Strategic Communications Lead, HDR, Inc.

Date/Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016; 10:30 am – 11:45 am

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December  7-9, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: