Bipartisan coalition wants $50 billion for transportation infrastructure

Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) recently joined Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to introduce a bill that would make $50 billion available for transportation infrastructure by leveraging private investment.

The Transportation and Regional Infrastructure Project Bonds legislation would allow states to issue up to a total of $50 billion, divided up as $1 billion per state, in bonds for transportation infrastructure projects over a six-year period. The principal cost of the bonds would be covered by a trust fund composed of Customs User Fees. In lieu of interest, the bondholders would receive federal tax credits that could be applied against federal income tax liabilities.

“With millions of Americans still out of work and our infrastructure crumbling, TRIP bonds represent an opportunity to tackle both of these problems head-on, in a fiscally responsible manner,” Whitfield said. “By leveraging private sector dollars, we can create jobs and make the infrastructure investments needed to stay economically competitive now and in the future.”

TRIP bonds should yield approximately 1.5 million jobs if based on the Department of Transportation’s estimate of 30,000 jobs per $1 billion of transportation funding, Whitfield said.

The privately-leveraged, 30-year bonds could be used to fund a wide range of transportation and infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, transit, rail and waterways. States would also be able to pool their funds for larger or multi-state projects.

Without the necessary investment in the nation’s infrastructure, the economy will lose more than 3.5 million jobs and the GDP would be suppressed by $3.1 trillion by 2020, according to a recent report by the American Society of Engineers.