Since the election on November 9, the press and pundits are discussing new infrastructure projects that might get implemented by the new President-Elect Trump. The New York Times recently suggested Trump should follow the lead of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and do something big to the U.S. infrastructure. Something that is lasting. We believe some of the advice that is being offered by the NY Times and others is deeply flawed. We hope the President-Elect and his advisors avoid some of the breakdowns in thinking and failures that President Obama implemented.
It is well known now the solar industry investments and incentives the Obama administration implemented were utter failures. High profile bankruptcies to politically connected companies included Solyndra and much more were a total waste of taxpayer money. Marita Noon, Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great, has done much positive work identifying the failures. Her article “Obama Never Admits Green Failure” published in Townhall outlines 27 bankruptcies and describes the decisions as the worst of crony capitalism.
The NY Times story suggested a number of infrastructure projects that Bold Business believes have the makings of failure and more crony capitalism. The NY Times story, in particular, asked Dan McNichol, author of the book “The Roads That Built America,” to name 10 infrastructure projects the President-Elect should consider. McNichol named 4 rail projects, Northeast Corridor Maglev at $100 Billion, California High-Speed Rail at $65 billion, Texas bullet train at $10 billion and the Maryland Purple Line at $5.6 billion. We hope the President-Elect stays away from these potential boondoggle investments. High-speed rail systems built will be obsolete the day they go into service.
Bold Impacts On Transportation Infrastructure
Even the LA Times published an Op-Ed written by Dick Startz, professor of economics at UC Santa Barbara, titled “Smart’ highways, not bullet trains, for California” criticizing the highly touted California High-Speed Rail project. Startz argues that for $2 Billion, about 3% of the proposed High-Speed Rail build cost, California could build smart highways that will be not only less expensive but more in line with where technology is headed.
The Dutch, for example, have already built a 23 passenger limo, called the SuperBus, that offers speeds of 160 mph. This speed is not far from the 220 mph rail proposal and it would be more efficient as smart highways offer more “where-you-want/when-you-want access” that shortens travel times. In addition, it could go into use much sooner the projected 2028 implementation date for California High-Speed Rail. And it has a striking resemblance to the Bat Mobile!
Robert Poole, Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation, has for several years written and studied the feasibility of high-speed rail vs highway investment. He reinforces Startz thinking about the cost and benefit advantages highway investments offer. Poole is also optimistic that the President-Elect may avoid some of the Obama Administration’s wasted investments. “I am encouraged by what I see,” he said. See Poole’s Reason TV Q&A “Will Trump Make Infrastructure Great Again?” He also in the Q&A discusses Obama’s vision for a nationwide high-speed rail system. He says, ” It was completely foolish.” Poole also referred to the California Rail deal as the “ridiculous California boondoggle and with the new administration it is effectively dead.”
Bold Business hopes the Trump Administration will make smart decisions that will lead to Bold Impact for U.S. Infrastructure. Poorly thought out projects like McNichol’s suggestions in the NY Times “Trump-Size Idea for a New President: Build Something Inspiring” should be ignored. Technology is rapidly changing the options and costs of these initiatives. We share Bob Poole’s optimism about the future Trump Administration’s early moves and thinking. Practical projects with the 3P’s, (Private-Public Partnerships), will help avoid massive wastes.