As painful as it is to deal with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency, if you think highways and sprawl are a terrible mistake, the time to mobilize is now.
One of the first things on Trump’s agenda, after dismantling Obama’s social and environmental legacy to the greatest extent possible, is a huge round of infrastructure spending.
During his victory speech, Trump said, “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.” And he has proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, a truly staggering amount, equal to 20 years of typical federal spending on surface transportation.
The vague concept of “infrastructure” is an area that leading Democrats seem to consider fertile ground for collaboration with Trump. The day following the election, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was hoping to “work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly views infrastructure as a potential area of policy alignment with Trump. Both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have said they can envision teaming up with Trump on infrastructure.
The New York Democrats have their eyes on building the trans-Hudson Gateway rail tunnel. But the vast majority of Trump’s plan would, in all likelihood, entail a road-building bonanza benefiting the construction and finance industries to the long-term detriment of the nation.
There is a school of thought which holds that Trump, born in Queens, will have an innate understanding of why transit matters. His transition site has a few glancing references to transit and rail.
But to expect enlightened transportation policy from the Trump administration is to ignore everything we know about the sources of his political power — rural areas and the suburbs — as well as the explicit policy ideas coming from his advisors and the Republican Party’s hostility to any transportation infrastructure that doesn’t move cars and trucks.