Does Trump’s infrastructure plan go far enough to help states like Tennessee?

NASHVILLE — Interstate 440 is the road Nashville residents complain about the most.

"It’s like driving on a dirt road on a farm," said one driver.

What’s the worst part of the road? "Everything," another said.

It’s a pothole-laden, roughly 7-mile stretch of decades-old concrete that links three freeways. The state plans to spend $100 million to rebuild and expand I-440 starting this summer as part of a $10 billion backlog in infrastructure projects statewide.

Nationally, U.S. infrastructure earns a D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers. At least $2 trillion is needed over the next decade to keep pace.

Nationally, U.S. infrastructure earns a D+, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers

"Time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure," President Trump said during his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.

He’s calling for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that would likely redirect $200 million in existing funds from Amtrak and transit programs while calling for hundreds of millions more from cities, states and the private sector. But private investment requires projects that make money, like toll roads, which are typically in urban areas.

"To think that we can do this with just $200 billion over 10 years from the federal government is just not addressing the issue," said Casey Dinges, the senior managing director for ASCE.

Fifteen states don’t allow such private investment in projects, and tolling is illegal in Tennessee. Also, the state doesn’t borrow money to build infrastructure, and Mr. Trump favors loans, which has concerned officials here.

"Since they’re looking at public-private partnerships, and leveraging federal dollars, we won’t be a player in that," said John Schroer, the state’s transportation commissioner.

Tennessee is one of 26 states that has raised its gas tax to help pay for infrastructure projects like I-440. Mr. Trump’s plan will likely go to Congress in the coming weeks, so it could still change. But it’s already facing strong resistance from Democrats.

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