ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane responded swiftly to a Wall Street Journal editorial criticizing President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to invest in transportation infrastructure, and questioning the value of federal transportation investment.
The Nov. 29 editorial cited a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report to make the point that “despite keening about ‘crumbling’ roads and bridges, U.S. public spending trends don’t suggest an infrastructure gap.” Ruane countered the same day in a letter submitted to the paper’s editors saying their conclusion reflected a cherry picking of select facts from the CBO report.
“That same CBO report also shows that capital investments—money for actual construction—fell by nearly 25 percent between 2003 and 2014,” Ruane wrote. “The U.S. DOT estimates a $46 billion annual shortfall exists at all levels of government to make cost-beneficial improvements that would improve system conditions and reduce traffic congestion levels. So, it’s clear there is an investment gap by any objective measurement.”
Ruane agreed with the editorial’s assessment that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus handed money to the states, which simply substituted the funds for their own planned spending on roads and bridges, blunting any potential additive impacts.
“By contrast, President-elect Trump is proposing more strategic infrastructure improvements over the next decade,” Ruane wrote. “He should begin by making expanded investments in the most troublesome freight bottlenecks, particularly on the Interstate Highway System. This will create long-term jobs across many industries and yield greater economic returns.”