The state of the union is crumbling.
The need to invest in infrastructure is one of the few issues on which even President Trump and California Gov. Jerry Brown agree.
During the presidential campaign Trump pledged to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure projects that would have made America safer and more competitive in the global marketplace. But he didn’t offer details about how it would be funded. He also missed a golden opportunity for a bipartisan deal during his first 100 days in office that could have dramatically changed the trajectory of his presidency.
The president did say during his State of the Union address Tuesday that “we will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” And now his overall plan calls for a $1.5 trillion investment over 10 years. But only $200 billion would come from the federal government. The rest of the $1.3 trillion would have to come from private investment and local and state funding.
It’s a non-starter. State and local governments simply don’t have that kind of money. The federal government has historically contributed 50 percent of the funding for infrastructure projects. Trump is proposing that the federal investment would be only 20 percent. He also wants to get the money by cutting an equal amount from the federal budget. Good luck getting bipartisan support for cuts of that magnitude.
California’s share of the $200 billion wouldn’t begin to cover the state’s needs, even in the unlikely event that the president offers up a generous proportion of the funding to a state he routinely trashes.
Less than a month after Trump took office, the governor submitted a $100 billion wish list of infrastructure projects for Trump to consider that would work in conjunction with the state’s 10-year transportation investment plan.
Several high-priority Bay Area investments were included in the list of 51 projects, some of which are already in the works but could use additional federal funding to complete:
— Constructing a multi-county express lane network to relieve Bay Area congestion for freight and major job centers along Interstates 80 and 680 and Highways 101, 85 and 237.
— Improving highway interchange and truck scales at the I-80/I-680 interchange.
— Building four express lanes on Highway 156, a major freight and regional connector in Monterey and San Benito counties.
— Extending BART to San Jose. Electrify Caltrain on the Peninsula. Expand and replace BART and Muni rail fleets.
The quality of U.S. infrastructure is falling behind other developing countries because of the failure to update systems that were considered state of the art 50 years ago. Our economic success depends on the efficiency and quality of our transportation, water and energy systems.
Bay Area counties are doing their part to raise funding for maintaining and improving our transportation systems. Brown and the Legislature have made moves to generate infrastructure funding. Trump needs to back up his campaign pledge and make the necessary investment to keep America from falling apart.
— The Mercury News