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Opinion

America needs solutions, not slogans, to modernize our infrastructure and boost the economy

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by Emil H. Frankel, Arizona Mirror
June 25, 2024

Every day, it seemed Donald Trump’s administration would announce the launch of “Infrastructure Week.” Instead of proposing and working with Congress to modernize our nation’s transportation facilities, Trump’s “Infrastructure Week” became a running joke.

There never was an “Infrastructure Week,” or policy, or funding from the Trump administration. Much like “Repeal and Replace” for the health care system, it was all talk, no action!

The transportation program of the Trump administration was heavily focused and dependent upon private investment.

The result? Little was done during the Trump years to modernize the nation’s highways, bridges, tunnels, rail and transit systems, or ports and airports. 

It should be further noted that there was no effort on the part of Trump to build bipartisan support in Congress for the federal funding that transportation improvements would require. 

Under Trump, there was so much talk, so many promises, but so little progress and so few results.

In the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency, he brokered with Congress the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This legislation, which passed with bipartisan support, reauthorized and expanded funding to local, regional and state transportation agencies. It also funded intercity and commuter passenger rail; renewed our aging highways, bridges, and tunnels; and modernized the nation’s ports and airports, to enhance freight mobility. It was a comprehensive solution for economic growth and jobs.

These initiatives and investments are critical to renewing and enhancing the efficiency and productivity of the American economy and improving the quality of life of every citizen. These solutions were ignored by Trump’s inaction.

In addition, this legislation and other Biden initiatives addressed the impact of the transportation sector on climate change, an area of policy ignored, if not adversely impacted, by the Trump administration. The transportation sector is the largest contributor to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions (almost 1/3 of such emissions) and is the only significant part of the American economy still almost totally dependent upon petroleum. 

Given the weather crises we are already facing attributable to human-caused climate change — rising sea levels, increased storm surges, excessive rainfall, severe coastal and river flooding, droughts and wildfires — and the financial and human risks that the nation faces from these catastrophic events, action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate transportation’s impacts on the climate, is essential. 

During his four years in office, Trump called climate change “a hoax.” His administration sought to reverse efforts to reduce emissions. 

On the other hand, Biden has created 100,000 new jobs just related to electric vehicles and charging stations. And that is only the beginning impact. There are incentives for the purchase of EVs, thus stimulating domestic auto production in this important new global industry. 

President Biden has also tightened automobile and truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles, which is an additional step to reducing transportation’s impact on climate and saving commuters their gas money.

During my years at the U.S. Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush, we secured funding for transportation infrastructure and climate change. By doing this, we recognized we cannot depend solely on private investment and the marketplace to meet the nation’s critical transportation goals. 

The need to use public funding and leverage private investment should be the foundation for transportation policy throughout this decade and in the future. However, during its time in office, the Trump administration showed no understanding or appreciation for the need for such a public-private partnership, reliant on strong bipartisan cooperation.

This story is republished from AZ Mirror under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.