On Feb. 12, the White House finally revealed its grand infrastructure proposal and claimed that it would spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments across the U.S. But the proposal only guarantees $200 billion in federal spending, and the White House is hoping the rest will come from states, municipalities and private investors.
This discrepancy has led to some bickering over what exactly President Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal can accomplish, putting Trump on the offensive. “Our infrastructure plan has been put forward and has received great reviews by everyone except, of course, the Democrats,” tweeted Trump on Feb. 13. “After many years we have taken care of our Military, now we have to fix our roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and more.”
One displeased local Democrat is Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. He expressed frustration on Twitter over the proposed cuts in federal funding. Peduto was also upset over proposed changes to the funding formula. Cities currently receive $4 in federal funds for every $1 they offer, but Trump’s proposal means they would only receive $1 for every $4 they offer.
“[This] would devastate any potential Infrastructure projects,” Peduto tweeted on Feb. 16. “In PA, it amounts to roughly $1 Billion per year in transportation cuts.”
So, how exactly will Trump’s infrastructure proposal impact Southwestern Pennsylvania? Pittsburgh City Paper contacted four different municipalities — Pittsburgh, Cranberry, New Castle and Ambridge — to find out. Each has different budgets and different infrastructure needs, but most agree that Trump’s proposal would make it very difficult to improve the conditions of their roads, bridges and transit systems.
Cranberry Township manager Jerry Andree told CP the Butler County township has been working diligently to expand Freedom and Rochester roads, as a way to accommodate Cranberry’s booming population. Cranberry plans to allocate significant dollars to these projects, but even so, the township wouldn't come close to funding those projects under Trump’s proposal. “Local municipalities simply do not have that kind of local funding to help with transportation improvements on state highways,” wrote Andree in an email to CP.
Ambridge borough manager Joe Kauer wrote to CP that the borough is focusing on road improvements, and mentioned that any project the small borough takes on can be a struggle to fund. Even so, for a town that is still losing population, Kauer says “any support is better than no support.”
New Castle is a Lawrence County city that could really use some help. It’s still under Act 47 Financial Distress, where the state oversees its spending, and its budget allocates a relatively small amount for road paving considering its population size. As a rural town, New Castle could benefit from getting some of the $50 billion in rural block grant program money proposed by Trump. However, that grant only applies to “innovative” infrastructure projects, and New Castle officials indicated to CP that they’re focused on everyday improvements, like repaving roads.
Peduto spokesperson Tim McNulty wrote in an email to CP that Pittsburgh needs to complete “all kinds of bridge, street, transportation and transit projects.” But he doesn’t think Trump is really offering any help. “Under the president's proposal, the federal match for infrastructure projects would be boiled down to next than nothing,” wrote McNulty.