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Transportation

What Does Trump Mean When He Says 'Infrastructure'?

Maybe the president-elect is talking about subsidizing profitable real-estate projects that would get built anyway.
The developer-in-chief walks through the construction site of D.C.'s Trump International Hotel.
The developer-in-chief walks through the construction site of D.C.'s Trump International Hotel.Jim Bourg/Reuters

What Donald Trump’s famous $1 trillion infrastructure build-out will look like—and whether Congress will let any of it happen—is currently a matter of great speculation. Key among the questions waiting to be answered is a very basic one: What is Trump talking about when he talks about “infrastructure”? Is it the state highways and municipal water pipes you’re imagining? Or could it also be the kind that’s attached to the kind of projects a golf course developer/casino magnate would know best: real estate?

Trump has said some traditionally infrastructure-y words when he talks about this. “We’re talking about a very large-scale infrastructure bill,” the president-elect said in a long-ranging interview with the New York Times published Wednesday. “… [a]nd we’re going to make sure it is spent on infrastructure and roads and highways.” A proposal to privatize infrastructure projects released by Trump’s economic advisors describes the complex network of airports, bridges, highways, ports, tunnels, and waterways” that underpins private sector growth.