WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s top science and tech policy think tank, today issued the following statement about the Trump administration’s plan to spur state and local investment in new infrastructure projects from its president, Rob Atkinson, former chair of the congressionally-chartered National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission:
The Trump administration’s plan is a welcome step forward in spurring investment in America’s increasingly strained and outmoded surface transportation infrastructure.
The only sustainable way to pay for needed highway expansion going forward will be through tolls and other user fees. While an ideal plan would include significantly increased federal funding paid for with a higher gas tax and a transition to a vehicle miles traveled tax system, the unwillingness of Congress to act on either proposal makes the administration’s proposal the leading plan to move the nation forward.
Incentives for states to take on more responsibility for funding will provide a needed revenue stream for highway capacity expansion, particularly through increased use of road pricing. History has shown that federal incentives can play an important role in catalyzing state action, and the Trump administration’s plan will give them stronger incentives to do so.
States can also fulfill their traditional roles as laboratories of democracy when it comes to upgrading infrastructure. The Trump plan provides some incentives for them to invest not just on concrete and steel, but also on building out the next generation of hybrid systems that integrate sensors, connectivity, and data analytics to increase transportation efficiency, improve safety, and serve as a platform for further innovation.