In His Own Words...
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday designed to speed up construction of infrastructure projects by eliminating portions of the federal permitting process, like an Obama-era mandate aimed at protecting future infrastructure from rising seawaters, and streamlining others.
Holding up a flow chart that he said showed a lengthy highway approval process — which could take 20 years — the president said his order would bring the process down to less than two years.
“This is going to happen quickly. That’s what I’m signing today,” he said, according to a White House transcript.
The news of the executive order was buried quickly when the president provoked widespread controversy with remarks about the violence in Charlottesville that were condemned by lawmakers across the political spectrum and praised by white nationalists.
After the White House’s Infrastructure Week, which featured speeches and non-binding letters but no more details on Trump's infrastructure policy, the president had just one concrete plan on the table: Privatizing the Federal Aviation Administration.
In a ceremony at the White House, Trump announced that he would push for turning the FAA into a nonprofit private corporation.
"It's about time," Trump said on Monday before signing a letter outlining the plan, adding that the change would herald an "air travel revolution."
The Senate, however, passed on Trump's plan — at least for now. It approved legislation last Thursday that would keep the FAA as a federal agency, while demanding greater accountability and adding new protections and funding.
Two weeks after President Donald Trump said his infrastructure plan was coming in two to three weeks, his secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, issued the same tease: Stay tuned for a few more weeks.
Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored “Infrastructure Week” event, Chao said the plan would call for $200 billion in taxpayer funds to spur outside dollars through private-public partnerships.
"These funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years," Chao said according to the Associated Press, noting that the tax dollars would be offset by unspecified savings to keep from adding to the national debt.
While infrastructure is hardly the sexiest topic, there was considerable buzz around the event, with Twitter users jumping on the trending hashtag suggesting projects ripe for infrastructure investment, including a slew of tweets advocating building a wall on the southern border.
The $200 billion is the same number the White House budget director earmarked for infrastructure investment last month.
“We’re certainly going to spend some money,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said then.
Degrading infrastructure projects affect millions of Americans every day, causing problems ranging from added car maintenance costs from bumpy roads to life-threatening health risks from unsafe drinking water.
President Donald Trump, looking to fulfill a campaign promise, has vowed to spend $1 trillion repairing America. After analyzing federal data, pouring over independent research, and consulting experts, here are some pressing infrastructure problems that need big fixes.
Puerto Rico's drinking water system is on the brink of crisis, an environmental group said Wednesday.
Elevated lead levels, bacteria, chemicals and lax adherence to regulations have created a toxic mix for the American territory's 3 million-plus citizens, Natural Resources Defense Council Health Director Erik Olson told NBC News, citing his group's latest research.
"Puerto Rico just clearly has the biggest challenges of any state or territory in the United States," Olson said.
Status: Little action
The White House has not yet rolled out a plan to rebuild what Trump calls America’s “crumbling” infrastructure.
The president appointed a special assistant of infrastructure with D.J. Gribbin, who has a history brokering deals between private investors and governments seeking infrastructure investment, the very kind of deal Trump says is key to funding reform without growing the deficit. Congressional leaders and infrastructure experts say they’re unsure just how feasible such funding mechanisms are; domestically, the nation has seen both successes and failures arise from such partnerships.
Trump's only action to date on an infrastructure project is his approval of permits for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. With that, Trump made good on one campaign promise while reneging on another: The Keystone XL pipeline won’t have to use American steel in construction, despite a White House order mandating pipelines do so.
President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure investment over ten years that he said would rebuild American cities and create millions of new jobs. Here in Arkansas’ second-largest city, where Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016, residents eagerly await details of a bill and see it as key to turning their fortunes around.
Texas had high hopes for the southern segments of SH 130, a 41-mile stretch of the high-speed toll road east of San Antonio.
The state had put off building that stretch of road until a pair of investors stepped forward and offered what sounded like a great deal: Texas would get a big check for turning the rights to build and operate the toll road over to a private entity, a move that would give the state a new highway and a share of the tolls. The state would own the road and rake in revenue, but wouldn’t have to put up the cash for its construction.
It's the kind of park that makes other parks jealous.
With a $4.3 million annual operating budget, Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park has five acres of green space dotted by a children's playground, food trucks, a restaurant and ample lounging and performance space. And it was built out of thin air, when a community group determined to connect two neighborhoods put a roof on the freeway that divided them. Where exhaust fumes once rose, a butterfly garden now sits.
Promising a trillion dollars of infrastructure investment was an easy win for a billionaire builder running for the White House: Roads and bridges need fixing, workers need jobs, and the proposal has bipartisan appeal.
Accomplishing it as president? Not so easy.
President Donald Trump faces high stakes — some in his own party oppose more government spending — while others see potential political benefits and more: He could unite Republicans and Democrats on a key issue and big investment could contribute to the millions of jobs he promised as a candidate.