Monday, June 11, 2018

The Washington Times: Building a Stronger Economy by Art Estopinan

The infrastructure in China is impressive. My recent visit extremely impacted my perspective on the overall transportation systems in the United States as I witness that China has a big advantage with their wonderful airports, road systems and with their unique Shanghai Maglev Train. I had the opportunity to ride on the world’s fastest commercial train; it has maintained its record since 2004.

The train can speed up to 268 mph and can quickly travel 19 miles in a short 7.5 minutes. This strategy saves valuable time and achieves results that are more cost effective. We in America must satisfy society and provide transportation methods that reflect the rapid developments of the 21st century. Time is of the essence and we know that fast turnaround ultimately closes the deal efficiently and effectively. It was instructive to experience firsthand how a quicker transportation system adds a lot of value to commerce — and for traveling passengers as well. We need an innovative system to compete with other leading countries around the world.

Private and public partnerships in transportation are key components for government to obtain effective results. Partnerships will create leverage for private sector entities to financially develop our economy by integrating resources and also creating jobs. The overall improvement of the U.S. infrastructure, particularly state and local transit, can be made possible by partnering with public entities such as non-profits to implement immediate results.

A source of revenue such as tolls or other public revenue is required to pay back private investments, and the outcomes are likely to be extremely rewarding. Our global economy thrives on time-saving innovations. The quicker transport of goods inevitably leads to increased productivity. By initiating and implementing new structures in transportation a significant value would be added to our nation’s infrastructure.

Private and public partnerships share a vision to regain our global leadership in transportation such as the one we had in aviation for so long. The country at large needs better trains and roadway systems. We must also effectively secure our bridges to help transport people and products in a timely fashion.

Intrastate commerce will also increase with an improved infrastructure system. Our leaders should support President Trump’s infrastructure plans for economic development with American labor, energy, iron and steel industries. Nurturing existing private and public partnerships as well as establishing new partnerships is fundamental. Funding is being allocated to complete current projects and to begin future projects on much needed improved roads, bridges, tunnels, highways and airports.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is working on accounting for federal taxpayer dollars to ensure the progress of infrastructure projects. Prioritizing local and state needs is a pressing concern now since there are multiple action items lined up to address the nation’s infrastructure problems. Last night, at a dinner with Mr. Trump and a group of bipartisan U. S. senators including Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat. Mr. Manchin has publicly pressed for U.S. infrastructure buildup and was front and center in their discussion.

President Trump is working in a proactive way to address many of his priorities, and infrastructure buildup must be a bipartisan effort as it is a winning issue for America, not simply a Republican or Democratic initiative.

As Trump recently stated, new building projects inspire Americans, and introducing new technology to our daily transportation needs will elevate our global standing into the 21st century. The Chinese are grateful for their commercial train system, and soon we will be able to compete with their efficiency. At the same time, producing new projects would create jobs and wealth in the U.S. The president and Congress must come together to address the urgency of prioritizing and executing actions immediately. I am certain our global economy will flourish significantly once we are able to transport passengers and goods efficiently throughout the entire nation.

• Art Estopinan, president of The Estopinan Group, is a contributor to the American Project, School of Public Policy, at Pepperdine University.

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