Axios has obtained a leaked draft copy of the Trump administration’s much-vaunted infrastructure plan. An initial look at the preliminary plan hints that it would drastically change how public projects are funded.
While no concrete figures have been provided, Trump has consistently cited a “$1 trillion” spending figure, with $200 billion coming over 10 years from the plan’s implementation and the remaining $800 billion coming from states and private industry. To meet those goals, the draft plan leans heavily on raising money through user fees, such as tolls, and drastically capping the federal government’s investment in infrastructure projects.
While 50 percent of the available funds have been set aside to incentivizing states and cities to invest in infrastructure, the plan favors new projects and diminishes how much funding a project is eligible for based on its age.
5: For instance, LA & Seattle passed huge funding packages in 2016. If they applied for grant funding from this new source in 2018, they’d have their score for local funding reduced by 70%. If they applied in 2019, they wouldn’t be able to count those funding packages *at all.*
— Yonah Freemark (@yfreemark) January 22, 2018
A requirement that the federal government cap its grant contribution to a project to 20 percent of a project’s total cost, no matter how large it is, might spell disaster for the New York-New Jersey Gateway Project if the bridge-and-tunnel plan falls under the bill’s jurisdiction.
In general, mass transit projects would find it much harder to win funding from the federal government, as Trump’s plan would give priority to developments that can demonstrate a material return on investment.
Other changes proposed in the draft plan include allowing tolls on interstate highways, a practice which is currently heavily restricted, consolidating project approval power across the country to a single federal agency yet to be named, ease environmental restrictions on highway construction, and permitting a greater involvement from private investors. Several changes to the Environmental Protection Agency have also been included in the plan, many of which involve both streamlining the agency as well as potentially expanding its authority to supersede state-level decisions.
It’s important to note that this only a draft of the infrastructure plan and the final version may differ significantly. The full draft outline can be read here.