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White House Infrastructure Project Priorities Reported

Jan. 25, 2017 (EIRNS)—American engineering societies are focused today on a "Priority List of American National Security Projects" of new economic infrastructure, published by the McClatchy newspaper chain and reportedly representing Trump White House plans for a national infrastructure bank. The list partly overlaps infrastructure investment priorities recently put together by the National Governor’s Association, but is claimed by McClatchy to come from White House staff. The projects are scored for "readiness," purpose, total investment, and investment targeted for 2017.

While the total 2017 investment in these 50 priority projects would be approximately $140 billion if work began on all of them, it remains the case that national credit for such investments has not been proposed by the Trump White House yet, and that Democrats’ national infrastructure bank bills are not adequate.

The number-one project on McClatchy’s list, if it is a working list at the White House, is also Democratic Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer’s number-one priority—the "Gateway Project" for new freight/passenger rail and tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan, and north and east. Two new high-speed rail lines are also included, both in Texas.

But the largest number of major projects on the "Priority List" are new lock-and-dam systems, long sorely needed on the Mississippi, Ohio, Monongahela, and Missouri Rivers, and on the Great Lakes. There are multiple hydroelectric projects, both new and upgrades, by the Army Corps of Engineers; and a critical new tunnel which opens a rail bottleneck at the Baltimore Port, the most productive port on the East Coast. Port-dredging projects are also included; but so are extensions of the electricity grid to link to wind and solar farms—economically useless though "creating jobs."

Interestingly, the third priority on the list is a "National Research Laboratory for Infrastructure," to be sited in Columbus, Ohio, and work closely with Ohio State University National Transportation Research Center and Battelle Labs.

One of Trump’s executive orders issued Jan. 24 fast-tracked approval for "high-priority infrastructure projects." Under it, any governor or Cabinet secretary can ask for a project to be designated as high-priority. If the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality approves, the project will be given priority for any agency required to review and approve the project.

"This is the expediting of environmental reviews and approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects," Trump said or the order.