Transportation Secretary Chao Calls for Private Infrastructure Funding

  • Elaine Chao calls on states to get creative on infrastructure
  • Trump seeking to spend $1 trillion on roads, other projects

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said her office was exploring new ways to finance President Donald Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure upgrade, including through public-private partnerships.

Speaking at an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials event in Washington Wednesday, Chao offered no specifics about the type of projects that would be prioritized by the administration, or how they would be funded.

But she said the department was exploring ways to unleash private investment, and said barriers that hinder public-private infrastructure partnerships need to be removed.

"Business as usual is just not an option anymore," Chao said. "Everyone can agree that our country can no longer take decades to build a new bridge or a new road, a new highway or airport."

Chao’s second speech since taking taking office on Jan. 31 echoed infrastructure themes of Trump’s congressional address Tuesday night. He reiterated a campaign trail pledge for significant infrastructure investments, saying "the time has come for a new program of national rebuilding."

Trump said he would to ask Congress to approve a plan for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending financed by public and private capital.

Chao also urged officials to streamline permitting, environmental reviews and other hangups that can slow projects. The Transportation department plans to "revisit" a number of proposed and final rules as part of the president’s bid to cut red tape, she said.

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