Both Sides of the Aisle Want Better Roads and Ports
By Sen. James Inhofe and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
The Wall Street Journal
February 21, 2018
During his State of the Union address, President Trump called for a broad bipartisan infrastructure package, pledging to improve the nation’s infrastructure and invest in the future. If you believe the news reports on partisan bickering in Washington, this bipartisan approach might seem impossible. But we know that it can, and will, happen.
There’s a strong link between infrastructure investment and a robust economy that creates jobs. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that unless the U.S. starts making smart investments now, by 2025 the country will have forgone $3.9 trillion in gross domestic product, $7 trillion in business sales and 2.5 million American jobs.
The time is right to close the infrastructure gap. America’s economy is strong and poised to continue growing if Congress can work together to make smart decisions.
The two of us believe that state and local leaders should identify and select the projects that are most needed in their communities. There is no one-size-fits-all federal solution for infrastructure. Local communities know best what they need, whether it’s to upgrade a wastewater facility in Warren, R.I., or repair a levee in Tulsa, Okla.
Money should be specifically designated for rural infrastructure. The unique needs of rural communities often make it difficult for them to compete with urban ones for private financing or traditional funding.
Finally, Congress should streamline the process for approving new projects, so that critical ones can get off the ground faster. The Treasury Department reports that among the major obstacles to completing infrastructure projects are inefficient reviews and lack of consensus among public and private entities.