President Donald Trump visited U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters June 9 to talk about cutting project permitting times before an audience that included a number of chief executives of state DOTs.
In his remarks there, the president said his administration is “setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze. This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard, allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process.”
The state agency leaders also met privately beforehand with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a roundtable discussion that the president briefly joined. The state officials represented DOTs in Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. Other participants included Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
A day earlier, Trump and other senior officials including Vice President Pence, Transportation Secretary Chao and other Cabinet members met at the White House for infrastructure investment discussions with stakeholders that included eight governors, 10 mayors and other state and local officials, and tribal leaders. AASHTO’s Wright also participated.
Trump also gave a June 7 speech in Cincinnati next to the Ohio River – with a towboat and coal-filled barges in the background – in which he emphasized the need to invest in locks and dams for waterway commerce as well as surface and air transportation systems.
The White House on June 8 published an infographic that included a “by the numbers” section on the still-to-come Trump infrastructure plan. It repeated the administration’s proposal to invest $200 billion in direct federal funding over 10 years, but provided new information of how some of that would be spent.
It said $100 billion would be “for local prioritization of infrastructure needs,” while $25 billion would go into rural infrastructure and $15 billion “for transformative projects.”
The graphic and a related video also said the administration wants to create 1 million apprentice positions in two years under a workforce training initiative, and reduce project permitting time by eight years compared with current procedures to move projects from the planning stage to completion.