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Solving America’s infrastructure deficit

Posted on March 1, 2017

The director of infrastructure for U.S. President Donald Trump’s transition team is hopeful that his recommendations can kickstart development in the country.

Speaking to the 10th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Montréal, Dan Slane suggested that infrastructure crisis now facing the U.S. is a problem that has been 30 years in the making. Depending on the source, the country’s infrastructure deficit has been pegged at anywhere from $2.5 to $8 trillion dollars, and President Trump has suggested that he plans to infuse an additional $1 trillion to help close that gap. Currently, the U.S. government spends approximately $700 billion per year on infrastructure.

Slane recognized that there are some serious obstacles facing the improved delivery of infrastructure in the United States. Those obstacles include a permitting process that he described as “out of control”, as well as lawsuits that have become “predatory and abusive.”

In Slane’s analysis of necessary infrastructure projects for the U.S., he focused on five criteria:

  1. Fix the worst of the worst.
  2. Improve the productivity of American businesses.
  3. Address projects that are defensive in nature. This is not a military focus, rather a climate and disaster resilience focus.
  4. Threats to national security, focusing on things like cybersecurity for energy assets.
  5. Next generation infrastructure.

With those criteria in mind, he created a list of 240 project that, in working with CGLA and the Boston Consulting Group, was narrowed down to 52 projects.

Getting those projects off the ground, in a permitting climate where project owners can end up dealing with multiple agencies simultaneously and face more than a decade-long process to get a project approved, was the next challenge. For this, he recommended an Executive Order that would push the Top 50 through an expedited permitting process in order to get work underway.

At this point, President Trump has reiterated his commitment to the infusion of $1 trillion in additional infrastructure funding but has not committed to Slane’s recommendations. Slane believes that the reason could be a need to address other priorities more immediately, such as tax and healthcare reform.

Check out ReNew Canada’s complete coverage of the 10th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Montréal:

VIA pitches high-frequency rail project

Cross-border power projects on the rise

User pay models for new federal infrastructure?

Does the U.S. need an Infrastructure Commission?

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