If the Trump administration launches a massive U.S. infrastructure program, the U.S. auto industry must ensure that our roads and bridges get their fair share of the funding.
Little is certain before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration in January, but he campaigned on restoring the U.S. infrastructure. He renewed his promise in his acceptance speech. "We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals," he said.
Trump's campaign infrastructure plan was short on every detail except that it would be twice the size of Hillary Clinton's proposal. Trump still must get any program through GOP budget hawks in both houses of Congress. But Democrats also favor rebuilding infrastructure, so he could get crossover votes from there.
So if there is a program, what would be fixed?
Besides most of the chunks Trump specified, the American Society of Civil Engineers also includes rail, levees, water treatment, parks and recreation facilities, electric generation, hazardous and solid waste disposal, waterways and ports, and dams on its most recent (2013) infrastructure wish list.
Even if Trump wrangled a $1 trillion appropriation, which appears wildly optimistic, it's not enough to rebuild everything. The society has estimated $3.6 trillion in infrastructure needs by 2020, with $1.6 trillion of that unfunded. Surface transportation, not including rail, was the big item, needing a $1.7 trillion investment but $846 billion short. Ten other categories need $1.9 trillion by 2020 but lack 765 billion.
A big infrastructure push is uncertain, but it's the best chance in decades to address a broken national road-funding structure. Congress has neglected adjusting as more fuel-efficient vehicles make the federal per-gallon gasoline tax less effective.