With the topic of infrastructure investing dominating today’s newsflow after the NYT report that Democrats would support Trump if he endorsed their propsed list of some $1 trillion in infrastructure projects, which would create as many as 15 million jobs, the Kansas City Star and The News Tribune have compiled a presentation – based on internal White House documents – of about 50 infrastructure projects nationwide which comprise the “priority list” for US infrastructure projects in the coming years.
As McClatchy reports, the documents, circulated within the congressional and business communities, offer a first glimpse at which projects around the country might get funding if Trump follows through on his campaign promise to renew America’s crumbling highways, airports, dams and bridges.
Among the potential projects are a new terminal for the Kansas City airport, upgrades to Interstate 95 in North Carolina and the construction of a high-speed railway from Dallas to Houston. The document obtained by the Star proposes funding the projects as public-private partnerships, with half the money coming from private investment.
The priority list of “Emergency & National Security Projects” was put together by the Trump team, a senior congressional aide told Kansas City Star. It includes cost estimates and job impact numbers. According to the source, it is not clear whether that document is a draft or a final version.
The National Governors Association circulated a similar list as a spreadsheet among state officials in December, requesting further suggestions. All but two projects on both lists are the same. Some projects that governors suggested — in California and Washington state in particular — do not yet appear on either list. The governors’ association has received 43 responses from states and territories so far, said Elena Waskey, a spokeswoman for the association.
“The total number of projects is more than 300,” Waskey said. “We are working to convene information for as many states as possible that we will then forward to the administration.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Among the projects listed is a $10 billion proposal to replace the nation’s radar-based air traffic control system with one called NextGen, based on satellites. The document projects the project could create 2,300 direct jobs.
For those concerned about partisan bias among the proposed projects, here are some stats: in some states, such as Missouri, more than one project is listed, while others states appear to have come up empty. Neither document lists any projects in Kansas, for example. The National Governors Association asked governors’ offices last month for input on a preliminary list of infrastructure projects compiled by the Trump team, said Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.
“They seek examples of priority infrastructure projects that might be incorporated into a future infrastructure investment program,” said the letter from the governors’ association, dated Dec. 16. “Specifically, the transition team is looking for 3 to 5 project suggestions from each state that they would vet for inclusion in a new program.” The letter said the vetting would be done by a bipartisan infrastructure commission overseeing investments.
“The initial spend on these projects for 2017 is expected to be $150 billion, and the transition team hopes that this type of project will be continued over the next 2 years,” according to the letter. The letter also noted that any contributions governors made would not be binding, and that this was “just an initial information-gathering request.”
Once the Trump administration officially took office, the letter said, “there will be a more formal process for states to submit information. Projects will be chosen through a more formal process as well.” The projects have to meet specific criteria:
- A national security or public safety “emergency.”
- “Shovel-ready,” with at least 30 percent of initial design and engineering work complete.
- Direct job creator.
- Project with the potential for increased U.S. manufacturing.
The governors’ association letter included a list of projects already being vetted, with the request that governors use it as a model for submissions.
The summary list of 50 proposed projects is below:
California’s Democratic governor Jerry Brown’s office sent nine examples of big shovel-ready projects in California, including the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project and Bay Area Commuter and Freight Projects. That preliminary list appears to be similar to the document obtained by McClatchy’s Star, with two differences: The preliminary list includes the Alaska Pipeline & LNG Project instead of the Texas Central Railway and it lists the Fort Mojave Solar Project instead of the Howard Street Tunnel.
Both the preliminary list and the more detailed document obtained by the Star include a new terminal for Kansas City International Airport. The detailed document says the project would cost $972 million and generate 1,000 jobs. The Kansas City airport is one of three airport projects on the Trump team’s document. The others are expansions of the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“The business case for a new terminal was bolstered after Southwest and the other airlines told the City Council on April 26 that they would finance the nearly $1 billion new terminal, to be built where Terminal A is now,” reads the document’s description for KCI, which lifts word-for-word a passage in a June 24 article in The Star. In North Carolina, the I-95 project would provide urgent improvements to one of the oldest sections of the busiest interstate in the nation, according to the document. The cost is listed at $1.5 billion, and the project would produce an estimated 5,400 jobs, the document says.
The 250-mile high-speed railway in Texas would enable commuters to travel between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth in less than 90 minutes, according to the document. It is a $12 billion proposal that would create 40,000 direct jobs, the document says.
Other proposals include I-395 reconstruction in Florida and a Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project designed to conserve billions of gallons of renewable groundwater in California’s Mojave Desert.
The full presentation of 50 proposed projects is below (link)