States and municipalities should reassess thinking around the federal government’s role.
- The federal role in infrastructure has changed to focus more on resiliency and intra-urban transportation
- Public recognition of the need to repair US infrastructure could spur both political parties to advance an infrastructure bill in 2019
- Conversations regarding the federal government’s role in infrastructure development have focused mostly on whether or not to raise the gas tax rather than providing additional stimulus
Former White House Special Advisor for Infrastructure D.J. Gribbin said that the administration must incentivize asset owners to raise money for infrastructure projects.
Gribbin during the Federal P3 Conference held in Washington, D.C. noted that many state and local officials are waiting for the federal government to provide a “coupon” for infrastructure projects.
“Many are still in a 1956 mindset,” he said referencing the interstate development under the Eisenhower administration. “They have trouble getting out of that.”
Gribbin noted that the federal role in infrastructure has changed since the 1950s to focus less on connecting the entire country in terms of transportation, to resiliency and intra-urban transportation. He added that the federal government’s limited role in infrastructure requires a change in how asset owners approach development.
“Many are still in a 1956 mindset. They have trouble getting out of that.” – D.J. Gribbin
“The federal government can play a role in terms of providing a stimulus for infrastructure development, as it has done through projects such as TIFIA and with private activity bonds,” Gribbin said. “But many of the conversations to date have been around whether or not to raise the gas tax.”
Gribbin was relatively optimistic about the prospect of an infrastructure deal in 2019, noting that it may be the only issue that Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree on. He added that increased public recognition of the need to address the US’ infrastructure may also be a factor.
However, Gribbin said that there now needs to be a different conversation among asset owners about the federal government’s role in infrastructure procurement.