Could President’s Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan mean big bucks for Georgia mass transit?
The American Public Transportation Association's Mantill Williams says the current federal transportation formula allocations allows for 20% of that funding to go to investments in public transportation.
"If you look at four different federal formula programs, Atlanta would receive over $219 million of that," Williams tells WSB.
In the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, U. S. infrastructure got a grade of D+. Among individual categories, transit scored the lowest grade of D-.
Williams listed some of a number of projects which could stand to benefit in Georgia.
"A Clayton County high-capacity transit project is on the books. Bus rapid transit to connect Cobb. Bus rapid simulates rail transit, so buses would come every five to 10 minutes," explains Williams. "You would also have an impact on the I-20 East
MARTA extension--that'd be about $2.5 million--as well as the Atlanta Beltline, that light rail system."
Williams says public transportation not only gets people to and from jobs--it creates them, too.
"If you get the $200 billion from this trillion, we're talking 10 million jobs nationwide over a 10-year period," he says. "For every dollar you put into public transportation, you generate four dollars in economic return. It really creates and sustains jobs."
One state's governor noted at an ASCE event Thursday in Washington that GOP lawmakers often opposed increased infrastructure spending when President Obama was in the White House.
"I hope Republicans in Congress treat a Republican president better on infrastructure if he comes forward with a plan," said Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. "If they don't get it done when you have Republican Congress and a Republican president, then we’re really in tough shape."
In December 2015, Mr. Obama signed a $305 billion infrastructure bill passed with bipartisan support. Mr. Trump proposes a public-private partnership for this trillion-dollar plan, and during the campaign, proposed a plan to offer $137 billion in tax credits to private investors who help build public infrastructure projects.
Williams says even in a state like Georgia, whose legislature is typically not quick to spend money on public transportation, the infrastructure spending could be appealing.
"We're thinking that once you have that federal match, that usually provides a huge incentive, at least on the state level, to move some of these projects forward," says Williams. "A lot of these projects are like a three-legged stool--you need local, state, and federal money."