Chao says infrastructure plan outline should be out by the end of May

Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation
WASHINGTON — Outlines of President Donald Trump's administration's plan for revitalizing U.S. infrastructure should be made public before the end of May, Elaine L. Chao, secretary of transportation, told a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday.

Chao told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that a more detailed plan will be presented in the fall, to coincide with the congressional timetable.

“In the interim, obviously the president is very impatient, and he has asked that principles be released,
so they should be coming out shortly,” Chao said.

Chao avoided details, but the plan appears to lean heavily on using federal dollars to leverage more funds from state and local governments, and the private sector.

“The infrastructure proposal is being put together with a much greater view of principles,” Chao said. “Given the decentralized nature of our transportation infrastructure, there will be seeding of federal dollars that hopefully will leverage other monies from the private sector, state and local to $1 trillion.

“Federal funding often displaces state and local funds. We believe that the infrastructure needs are so great that all entities need to collaborate,” she said.

Committee members raised questions about specific projects, from transit capital funding to the Caltrain's Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project.

Senators Corey Booker, D-N.J., and Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raised concerns about the Gateway Project to build additional railroad tunnels from New Jersey into Manhattan.

Booker said he had seen the damage that Superstorm Sandy did to the existing tunnels, and the failure of one of them would cripple the region's economy.

“It's costing our region millions of dollars in productivity every week,” Booker said. “We're teetering on the edge of a traffic Armageddon in the Northeast region.”

Senators expressed concerns about the future of DOT TIGER and FASTLANE competitive grant programs.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said that the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, part of the CREATE program to facilitate rail freight through the Chicago gateway, depended on a FASTLANE grant to go forward.

“All seven Class I railroads agree that it will improve freight shipping and benefit the entire freight network,” Duckworth said. “State and local funds combined with significant rail company dollars are waiting patiently for FASTLANE funding to advance this critical project.”

Chao acknowledged that TIGER grants were popular with Congress. While the president's budget proposal eliminates the program, it could re-emerge in a different form.

“The thought was that going forward there be a more holistic approach to infrastructure, and these TIGER grants would be recast some way in the future,” Chao said.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

  • Previous Day
  • May 18, 2017
  • Next Day
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.
Big Boy

Big Boy

All about the world's biggest locomotive


Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today