Start with infrastructure, Mr. Trump
© Greg Nash

Voters spoke loudly and clearly on Election Day: They want our federal government to invest in our infrastructure, and they expect the Trump administration and Congress to follow through on their campaign promises.

Mr. Trump and the members of the 115th Congress admittedly sought higher office on a platform of many worthy priorities. But there are good reasons for them to start with infrastructure.

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First, infrastructure investment is a bipartisan priority that unites both parties. Democratic leaders in Congress have already suggested that infrastructure is a possible area of bipartisan agreement between their party and President-elect Trump. And an infrastructure package has the possibility of cutting through partisan acrimony, and getting our government back to work after years of gridlock in Washington that has frustrated many Americans.

This is especially important as post-election polls have shown that Americans remain deeply divided about some of the biggest issues facing our country. By starting on an issue where there is consensus, President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE can begin his time in office by unifying lawmakers, rather than by stoking partisan discord.

There are good reasons why infrastructure is an area of unity for both parties. A national poll of voters conducted in August by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers found that over 60 percent of registered voters rate the quality of our roads and bridges in fair or poor condition. Our water pipeline infrastructure did not fare much better, with more than half of registered voters rating it in poor condition.

Pursuing a new infrastructure package at the outset of 2017 also promises to spur economic growth. The current administration’s economic policies and attempts to stimulate business growth have not driven the country’s return to prosperity. A major infrastructure investment package holds the promise of adding thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs across the country, but most especially in the communities where economic stagnation contributed to overwhelming support for Donald Trump.

Of course, the burden does not rest solely on our federal government. That same poll also found that local, state and federal governments share responsibility for improving the current state of infrastructure and more than 70 percent believe all three levels of government should be doing more to improve the nation’s infrastructure. This shared obligation is especially important given that America’s infrastructure needs vary from surface transportation infrastructure, to expanded rural broadband access, ports, aviation and water and utility infrastructure. Elected officials at all levels of government have a role to play.

Along with infrastructure, Congress can pursue several additional priorities in the New Year to further strengthen our country’s manufacturing base, such as reforming our tax code, streamlining regulations, and helping U.S. manufacturers to export their products around the globe.

By electing Donald Trump and dozens of other candidates who had campaigned on the promise of addressing our infrastructure deficit, voters made their expectations of these elected leaders very clear. If Washington were to fail to make good on the voters’ expectations, it will only further erode trust in our federal government and its elected leaders.

The bottom line is simple: The time to invest in our infrastructure is now. Our new government has a chance to repair eroded infrastructure while transforming our economy to meet 21st century needs. These investments are meanwhile poised to create thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs.

If President Trump really wants to make America great again, infrastructure is the best place to start.

Jerry Johnson is President of the Farm, Ranch and Agriculture (FRAG) Division of Blount International, Inc. located in Oregon, Ill. He is a member of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Board of Directors and Ag Sector Board, as well as the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Task Force.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.