By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Infrastructure and welfare reform are the administration’s top goals for 2018, and the White House will huddle Jan. 3 about the former, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said.

“It’s time to stop talking about crumbling roads and bridges and start fixing roads and bridges,” Cohn said at a Dec. 20 Axios event.

President Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor did not offer new details about the infrastructure plan. He repeated the administration’s familiar goal of using $200 million of federal money to leverage $1 trillion of investment over the next decade.

“There will be no infrastructure bank,” Cohn said. “That is not the most efficient way to pay for infrastructure.”

He emphasized the administration’s ongoing effort to streamline the infrastructure project approval process. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still waiting for project approvals dating back to the 1920s, which could not immediately be confirmed with the federal agency.

Cohn also said the nation needs to use technology to modernize its transportation system. “We need to start building for 2050, not 1950,” he said.

In particular, Cohn said he is fascinated by improved tunneling techniques, which could be used to build underground high-speed rail that can improve topography-challenged surface level systems.