Transportation Secretary Chao: Plenty of Private Money to Fund Public Infrastructure

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao detailed the Trump administration’s bold infrastructure plan, telling the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo,  “The president has said that it is top priority to repair, rebuild and rehabilitate the infrastructure of our country.  You know, the transportation infrastructure, the entire infrastructure of America determines our competitiveness internationally.”

Chao outlined the potential timeline for an infrastructure plan from the administration, telling Bartiromo that she anticipates a proposal by the third quarter.

According to Chao, the infrastructure plan would cost $1 trillion over 10 years, $200 billion of which would be direct federal funding.

“Some people have suggested all federal funding for $1 trillion, and that's just not possible because we would incur a tremendous deficit,” she said.

To avoid that deficit, Chao explained that the administration is working on innovative ways to fund the plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure, including a public-private partnership.

She says she hears a lot of potential interest from the private sector to get behind the infrastructure plan, but there are regulations and rules in some states that would make a partnership challenging.

“The problem is, there is not enough public infrastructure projects ready to be financed because the permitting process takes too long; it takes 16 years to build a bridge, it takes about 16 years to build a road.”

Chao then gave an example of how the federal government can work together with state and local officials to get past the red tape and work quickly on infrastructure projects.

“On March 30 when I-85 in Georgia suffered a tremendous mishap where there was a fire underneath a bridge, we partnered with the state Department of Transportation. I spoke with the governor and the state commissioner for transportation and within an hour of their request for emergency funding, we came through with $10 million.”

The administration is taking a broad, forward-thinking perspective on infrastructure, according to Chao.

“The infrastructure initiative includes not only the transportation portion – bridges, roads, ports – but also energy, water, possibly broadband, possibly VA hospitals. So, it really takes a look at the entire infrastructure, which adds to our country's competitiveness, contributes to our residents' quality of life and it's also future-oriented.”