By Dave Bauer, senior vice president, government relations, ARTBA

ARTBA attended an Aug. 30 Trump administration briefing for state and local government leaders on the president’s infrastructure package. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the audience their plan would use $200 billion in direct federal investment to leverage $800 billion in private capital over the next 10 years to support transportation and other infrastructure improvements.

Chao and White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney spoke extensively about how the package would continue the administration’s efforts to develop regulatory reforms to speed up the delivery of infrastructure projects. Chao compared the five years it took to build the Hoover Dam with the 19 years it took to construct a runway in Taos, New Mexico, as an example of the problem the administration will address.

They also discussed the Executive Order President Trump signed Aug. 15 that will require all federal permits for a project to be issued within 90 days of reaching a record of decision and establishes a two-year average goal to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects.

Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure DJ Gribbin said the administration’s goal is to use federal funds to incentivize state and local governments to increase their own infrastructure investments. Gribbin emphasized that while the administration will promote tolling and public-private partnerships, those tools are just part of a broader package of legislative, regulatory, policy and cultural changes that will be advanced.

While it is unclear when the administration’s infrastructure package will be released, Secretary Chao has previously referenced a goal of this fall. The briefing for state and local officials, however, made it clear that substantial work has already gone into the measure.