Will Trump's infrastructure plan help fix LI roads and bridges?

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MELVILLE -

From bridges and overpasses to roads and highways, there's no shortage of transportation projects on Long Island that need attention. But the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan has local officials concerned about who will pay for those projects.

President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his long-awaited plan, a $1.5 trillion proposal that seeks to fulfill a number of his campaign goals. But it relies heavily on state and local governments to produce much of the funding.

Traditionally, the federal government has picked up as much as 80 percent of the cost of major highway projects, with state and local governments picking up the rest of the tab. But President Trump is proposing nearly the opposite by calling for Washington's share to come way down, and for the bulk of the projects to be paid for by local governments and the private sector.

But many experts say that's just not feasible here on the Island. And some Long Island officials are afraid that if the federal government contributes less to local highway projects, tolls may have to be considered to make up the difference.

"If you look at the airports, we're seeing some success -- JFK, LaGuardia -- because the airlines themselves are investing, they’re making money," says Marc Herbst, of the LI Contractors Association. "But who would want to invest in a road unless you put a toll on there? What's the revenue stream for the private sector to get involved? Some projects definitely work, others may not."

Herbst says the president's plan also steers most of Washington's money to rural areas of the country, and relies on local governments to pay most of the cost of bridge and highway projects.

"They're funding rural areas and not looking at the areas in most need -- the urban, Northeast, Rust Belt sections of the country with the oldest infrastructure and the most immediate need for repairs," he says.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says Trump's plan would put unsustainable burdens on local government and calls it a "plan to appease his political allies, not to rebuild the country."

Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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