by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As Obama administration officials head for the door at the Department of the Treasury, they have released a new study on infrastructure. The study—completed by outside consultants—profiles 40 large transportation and water projects that the authors believe would generate economic growth.
For each project, the study gives the estimated benefits, costs, and benefit-cost ratio. Many of the 40 projects appear to be worthwhile, such as an $8 billion Hampton Roads highway project with a benefit-cost ratio of 4.0. The report is silent on who should fund each project, but such high returns suggest that the states have a strong incentive to invest by themselves without aid from Washington.
What the states need from Washington is not money but to get out of the way. The Treasury report suggests that some “major challenges to completion” of projects are imposed by governments.
One challenge is “significantly increased capital costs.” …
… Another challenge is “extended program and project review and permitting processes.” …
… The upshot? The incoming Trump administration can spur infrastructure investment by working with Congress to repeal rules that unnecessarily delay projects and increase costs. Other steps include cutting the corporate tax rate to increase private investment and ending the bias against the private provision of facilities such as airports.