ND's Congressional delegation on infrastructure

Jan 5, 2018

One of President Trump’s big priorities of 2018 is an infrastructure bill. He’s talking a trillion dollars in spending. But not all of that money is federal.

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer (R) is looking at North Dakota’s needs.

“In my shop, we have been busy identifying  the projects in North Dakota," Cramer said in an interview. "We have quite a long list of project that are either underway on in the queue.”

Cramer said the list includes traditional infrastructure, roads and bridges, plus broadband deployment.

“The Internet continues to be more and more the highway of the future," Cramer said.

The delegation says the President’s infrastructure bill is likely to be rolled out by the end of January.

“On the order of $200 billion, in terms of the federal funding, and then public-private partnerships hopefully driving that number up maybe as much as a trillion," said Sen. John Hoeven (R).

Hoeven said North Dakota has been a leader in the area of public-private partnerships.

“We’ve worked on it going all the way back to broadband Internet throughout all of North Dakota, with Dakota Carrier Network – amazing story," Hoeven said. "We’re also doing that in Fargo, with the huge $2 billion flood protection project there.”

Both Hoeven and Cramer think it will work. But the third member of the delegation – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp  (D) is skeptical.

“Where somebody might buy a tollway, or a beltway around Indianapolis, they aren’t going to buy the road between Medina and Steele," Heitkamp said. "It’s just not going to happen.”

Heitkamp also said she’s concerned about how this plan will impact state governments.

“And you have to ask yourself – what’s the state’s tolerance for a toll road?" Heitkamp said. "What’s the state’s tolerance for letting a major corporation run the airports?”

Heitkamp said she’s also worried states will then have to pick up some of the tab to make the projects go. She said the plan needs 60 votes in the Senate, so it will likely go through some changes before it comes to the floor.