“President Biden’s plan is the most visionary proposal for the nation’s transportation network since the dawn of the Interstate Highway System,” Janette Sadik-Khan, chair of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, said in a statement.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has done report cards on US infrastructure since 1998, and the country has never received better than a C-, according to its chair emeritus Greg DiLoreto. He said Biden’s proposal will avert negative economic consequences from a failing infrastructure.
“We have a proposal, finally, that may cut into the infrastructure shortfall,” DiLoreto told CNN Business.
Paul P. Skoutelas, CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, said that in 40 years in the field, he’s never heard a president talk more directly and forcefully on the importance of transportation investments.
“This is transformational for mobility,” Skoutelas said. “It’s years, if not decades overdue.”
He also called for replacing 50,000 diesel transit buses and at least 20% of school buses with electric vehicles.
Scott Mercer, founder of Volta Charging, which operates 1,700 charging stations, says that the federal government will need to be careful to focus not just on the quantity of electric vehicle charging stations, but the quality too.
He pointed to the charging networks of electric car makers Tesla and Rivian, which are exclusively for their own vehicles, as the kind of model that doesn’t make the most sense for public investment.
“Imagine if Porsche were to go out and announce they were building gas stations for only Porsche 911 drivers. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Mercer said.
Rivian declined to comment, and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
Gabe Klein, a partner at the urban consulting firm CityFi, who previously led transportation departments in Chicago and Washington, DC, praised the Biden plan for having a holistic approach. He pointed to how the proposal calls for everything from electrifying school buses to building chargers for those buses, and nurturing a supply chain and manufacturing in the US to develop the buses.
“If we’re going to save ourselves in this climate crisis, this is the level of investment we need,” Klein said.
“[This] would be an enormous step forward to help close the wealth gap and help communities of color,” Anderson said.
But Biden’s plan is not without critics. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, cautioned that the 28% corporate tax rate proposed to fund the plan could dissuade investment, and called the tax hike to fund the plan the largest in five decades.
“The president is proposing a behemoth tax and spending plan that centralizes more power in D.C.,” said Matthew Dickerson, director of the foundation’s work on the federal budget.
Nicole Gelinas, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which focuses on urban policy, said that the investments in public transit and highway removal risked becoming overly expensive.
“Without cost reform, including a requirement that all construction contracts that benefit from federal funding be made available to the public, the danger is that more money simply inflates the cost of existing projects in terms of pushing up the cost of materials and labor,” Gelinas said.