Finally, after over a year of waiting, President Trump has attempted to put pen to paper and deliver on his campaign promise to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure with an historic $1-trillion investment.
Yet, instead of launching a program of sustained investment in our deteriorating infrastructure, the President’s proposal dodges the hard choices and leaves states and cities without the resources they need to meet the challenges they face.
There’s no question that we need to make significant investments, yet this proposal contains not a single cent of new federal money for infrastructure.
Americans are smart enough to see through this proposal. They know President Trump cannot conjure real infrastructure upgrades out of thin air. But they also know that time is running out.
Much of our highway infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life, and we see the effects of deferred maintenance and funding shortfalls. Many of the road and rail bridges in my home of Southern California are structurally obsolete. Many highways are in the same condition.
Our ports– which are the start of our national supply chain across the country– have been setting records with cargo volume, but poor freight networks can delay cargo from reaching its final destination.
Our cities and urban areas continue to grow and put stress on our transportation network, leading to congestion, breakdowns and delays.
Democrats in Congress have proposed real solutions to these challenges, yet the Republican Congressional leadership and the President refuse to come to the table and engage in these difficult choices.
They are simply in denial. We cannot meet our infrastructure needs without real federal investment.
I have worked across the aisle with Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) from Orange County to introduce legislation that would establish a dedicated Freight Transportation Infrastructure Trust Fund, financed by user fees on freight shipments.
Our plan would ensure that worthy freight infrastructure projects, like dedicated truck lanes on I-710 leaving the Port of Long Beach or the Alameda Corridor-East rail project to San Bernardino County, don’t have to compete with passenger-centric projects for the same scarce resources.
And our bill ensures that freight projects would be paid for by their users, the shippers of goods. It ends the free-riding that plagues our current environment.
Mine is just one approach; some of my colleagues have other worthwhile proposals to meet this challenge. But without leadership from the White House, and a willingness to take on the hard questions, we’ll be back to the drawing board a year from now to find new funds for our growing infrastructure needs.
Our nation has spent more than 30 years deferring maintenance on our once world-renowned infrastructure. Today, we are left with the remains of that legacy of inaction. We can’t wait another 30 years, or 20, or 10, or even five, before we start investing in our nation and its future.
Lowenthal serves in the United States House of Representatives for California’s 47th Congressional District.