Trump cuts would threaten $38B in transportation projects: report

Trump cuts would threaten $38B in transportation projects: report
© Greg Nash

Transit advocates are sounding the alarm over the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts, saying they would jeopardize $38 billion worth of planned public transportation projects.

The administration, which is working on a $1 trillion infrastructure package, has floated a $2.4 billion cut — or 13 percent — to the Department of Transportation.

The spending blueprint also would limit funding for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment program, the Essential Air Service program and federal support for long-distance Amtrak trains.

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The proposal, if enacted, would threaten 800,000 construction and related jobs associated with transit projects that are currently in the pipeline, including 300,000 longer-term jobs associated with economic productivity, according to a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Economic Development Research Group.

Meanwhile, the 2016 GOP platform calls for entirely eliminating federal funding for mass transit, bike-share programs, sidewalks and rail-to-rail projects.

"These proposed cuts will devastate the working class by causing job losses and turning back the economic progress being made on Main Street America," said Richard White, acting president and CEO of APTA.

The report comes as Congress prepares to fund the government, whose current funding expires at the end of the week.

But GOP transportation leaders on Capitol Hill have pushed back against some of Trump’s proposed DOT budget cuts.

Lawmakers have also called for an infrastructure funding boost that was already approved and paid for by Congress in 2015.

Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, passed in December 2015, investments in Highway Trust Fund transportation projects were supposed to increase by $2.4 billion starting in fiscal 2017.

But Congress has been operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that has maintained fiscal 2016 spending levels.

"As Congress works to wrap-up the appropriations for this fiscal year and address the FY 2018 budget, we believe the place to start is by fully funding the FAST Act at levels that were approved by Congress in 2015,” White said.

“In addition, the next best thing the Administration and Congress can do together is to make public transportation a vital part of any new infrastructure initiative."