President-elect Donald Trump has proposed a $1 trillion, 10-year plan to improve roads, bridges and other ailing infrastructure – a plan that could be a boon to Georgia’s transportation system.
Details remain sketchy. But private investment in public works projects is a key element of Trump’s plan. Georgia could be better equipped than some states to benefit, according to Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.
He said the state already plans to seek private investment in numerous major road projects. The new I-285/Ga. 400 interchange – already under way – includes private money.
“I feel like we’ll be well-positioned if something like that moves forward,” McMurry said. “But we’ll have to see the details.”
But private investment may only go so far.
Michael Sullivan, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia, said private companies want to invest in projects that produce a revenue stream – like new toll roads. Most Georgia transportation projects wouldn’t qualify, he said.
Another funding option under discussion is encouraging American companies with cash parked overseas to bring it home, then use the resulting tax proceeds to help pay for new infrastructure spending. But Sullivan said that’s a one-time revenue source that likely won’t produce the kind of money needed to pay for Trump’s plan.
That leaves few options to pay for a big spending increase. And the Republicans who control Congress are loath to raise taxes, borrow more money or increase the budget deficit. Which means funding on the scale that Trump envisions is uncertain.
As Sullivan put it: “There’s no such thing as a free road.”