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UPDATE 4-Trump to talk infrastructure with Musk, other business leaders
March 8, 2017 / 6:12 PM / in 9 months

UPDATE 4-Trump to talk infrastructure with Musk, other business leaders

(Adds outside comment, White House confirmation)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday will discuss the administration’s plans to boost infrastructure spending with business leaders including Elon Musk, who heads Tesla Inc and Space X, the White House said.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said he would push for a $1 trillion infrastructure program to rebuild roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects, but he has not presented a specific plan.

The White House said the discussion would focus on “opportunities where the private sector and the government can work together to help rebuild American infrastructure.”

Major real estate and private equity executives will attend the meeting, including developer Richard LeFrak, Vornado Realty Trust Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth and Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris, the White House said.

The New York Times reported last month that Trump asked LeFrak to consider overseeing construction of a border wall with Mexico.

Trump, who was previously a New York real estate developer, told the Wall Street Journal in January that he was tapping LeFrak and Roth to head a new council to monitor spending on his infrastructure plan.

Musk, who is making his third trip to meet with Trump since the president took office Jan. 20, said in December that he planned a project dubbed “the Boring Company” to start digging tunnels in Los Angeles to relieve traffic congestion.

Edward Mortimer, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce transportation official, told a Senate panel on Wednesday that without action, the federal highway trust fund would face a serious shortfall starting in 2020, and policymakers would need to come up with $150 billion over six years to maintain current spending.

“This shortfall will likely result in significant uncertainty, with states possibly delaying major transportation projects,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting will also include Vice President Mike Pence, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, as well as General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford, McKinsey & Co partner Tyler Duvall and Nature Conservancy Managing Director Lynn Scarlett, the White House said.

Participants in the meeting did not comment or respond to requests for comment.

Last month, Trump touted the infrastructure plan in an address to Congress.

“To launch our national rebuilding,” he said, “I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States - financed through both public and private capital - creating millions of new jobs.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded U.S. infrastructure at D+ and estimated the country needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020.

In January, Trump signed an executive order aimed at expediting environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially high-priority projects such as improving the U.S. electric grid and telecommunications systems and repairing and upgrading “critical” port facilities, airports, pipelines, bridges, and highways. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Von Ahn)

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