Trump ready to pitch $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan Thursday in Ohio

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Trump will speak at an International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18 apprenticeship and training site in the village of Richfield

By Tim BotosGatehouse Media Ohio

CANTON, Ohio — President Donald Trump will visit Northeast Ohio on Thursday afternoon to present his proposed $1.5 trillion program to rebuild some of the country’s aging infrastructure.

Trump will speak at an International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18 apprenticeship and training site in the village of Richfield, in northern Summit County. He’ll address a group of local workers, including engineers and heavy equipment operators, the types of professions that would be tasked with work to improve and upgrade everything from roads and bridges to sewer lines.

Exact details and times for the event are to be made available Thursday morning.

America’s infrastructure, as a whole, is aging and decaying, according to a variety of studies and analyses. Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its most recent four-year report card on the issue and graded the country’s framework a D-plus.

During a phone conference Wednesday to preview the Richfield visit, senior Trump administration officials said it gives the president an opportunity to sell his plan to Ohioans.

The president’s 10-year program calls for $200 billion in federal tax dollars to be leveraged with state and local tax dollars, along with private investment, to bring the total to $1.5 trillion.

Senior administration officials acknowledged Congress isn’t likely to consider the entire plan in one sweeping piece of legislation, but they are hopeful beginning pieces can be passed by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he expects the proposal to be broken into as many as six separate bills.

Trump’s visit comes one day after the Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report detailing potential economic benefits of a comprehensive infrastructure plan.

According to the report, they include:

• A 0.1 to 0.2 percentage point increase in the Gross Domestic Product.

• Employment of between 290,000 and 414,000 additional workers, on average, during the 10-year window. Many would be in the skilled trades or those with a high school degree or less — and infrastructure jobs can pay as much as 32 percent more in median salary than similar non-infrastructure jobs.

• Decreasing the average time of 5.1 years to complete environmental impact statements on infrastructure work would accelerate the receipt of project benefits.

A senior administration official said compressing the environmental impact statement time will “unleash commerce and jobs.” He pointed to an Ohio Department of Transportation interchange project at Interstate 71 and U.S. Route 36 in Delaware County as an example of speeding up the process. The Federal Highway Administration turned over that environmental impact work to the state, which ultimately reduced review time from 64 months to 27 months.

The Richfield site of the president’s visit, at 4675 Newton Road, is located between Akron and Cleveland.

Tim Botos is a reporter for The Canton (Ohio) Repository.

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