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Earlier this week, POLITICO hosted a panel discussion on the prospects for a major national infrastructure push from President Trump and Congress. Entitled, “Rebuilding America: A New Infrastructure Agenda,” the conversation delved into the proposed components of a package and the political path necessary to secure federal investment in the year ahead.

The event emphasized the critical role infrastructure plays in America’s economic growth and interstate commerce, and discussed a “toolkit of options” to modernize the system. Among the ideas were increased revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, public-private partnerships, and innovative new technologies. In particular, several of the speakers noted the efficiency and safety gains possible with the widespread adoption of connected vehicles, Twin 33 trailers, and 5G networks, among other advances.

Featured speakers included:

  • Randy Mullett, Americans For Modern Transportation (AMT)
  • David McIntosh, President, Club for Growth
  • Marcia Hale, President, Building America’s Future
  • Ed Mortimer, Executive Director, Transportation Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Senator Deb Fischer (R- Neb.)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D- Minn.)

Below are key excerpts from the event. View the full video here.

Randy Mullett, Executive Director of AMT, Stressed The Need To Pair Infrastructure Investment With Smart Regulations To Take Advantage of New Technologies. “Infrastructure investment cannot be focused on simply filling potholes, painting lines, installing signage, and building additional lane miles. It is impossible to simply build enough new roads to stay ahead of the physical and economic gridlock that will result from the anticipated increases in freight and personal vehicle miles expected over the next 25 years. Smart regulations that boldly take advantage of new technologies in safety, sustainability, and vehicle design are the only way to ensure we are ready to support a growing population, and a growing economy that benefits all Americans.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Ed Mortimer Highlighted The Importance Of A New Infrastructure Plan That Can Streamline Processes And Support Innovation. “Of all of the things the government invests in, I cannot think of a better investment than infrastructure for the long-term economic growth of the country. This has to be done and, in the context of what is most important, what is the job of the federal government to lead? And again…we need to look at streamlining, we need to improve technology. Looking at things like Twin 33s, looking at 5G – there’s a whole host of things. We know autonomous vehicles and drones are coming into the marketplace, and we don’t have an infrastructure that can handle it. It’s time to do something about this.”

Senator Deb Fischer (R.- Neb) Expressed Enthusiasm For Renewed Momentum Around Infrastructure Investment, But Cautioned Against A Huge Comprehensive Bill. “Infrastructure is an investment in the future of this country. It’s an investment where you bring stakeholders together and make tough decisions on what the vision is going to be for your community or for your state or for the nation. So that to me is very, very exciting. When we look at a huge comprehensive bill, I don’t know if that’s the best direction to go on an infrastructure bill….I think we would get better policy segment by segment.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) Cited Need For Diversity Of Infrastructure Funding Sources, Including A Combination Of General Funding, Tax Reform, And Public-Private Partnerships. “There’s got to be some combination of some general funding, something from some kind of smart tax reform that brings money into infrastructure – and I would say the money overseas for certain – and then the third would be some mix of public-private partnerships. But I don’t think it’s realistic to think that’s going to pay for all of it, or that it will work in a lot of states that don’t have that type of structure.”

 

POLITICO Pro Deputy Transportation Editor Kathryn Wolfe (right) is joined by Club for Growth President David McIntosh (left) Building America’s Future President Marcia Hale (second from left) and Transportation Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ed Mortimer (second from right) during the first panel of POLITICO’s “Rebuilding America: A New Infrastructure Agenda” at the Newseum in Washington, DC., Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr.)

POLITICO Pro Transportation Reporter Lauren Gardner (right) is joined by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE, left) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn., center) during the second panel of POLITICO’s “Rebuilding America: A New Infrastructure Agenda” at the Newseum in Washington, DC., Monday, April 24, 2017. (Photo by Rod Lamkey Jr.)