Trump’s infrastructure investment plans. Dollars for diggers?

Investment advice web site, The Motley Fool recently took a look at Canadian company Badger Daylighting, which manufactures and operates hydrovac-equipped trucks that mainly serve the utility and municipality and oil and gas industries.

“If underground pipes need to be laid down or maintained, Badger can provide its excavation services, which leave a minimal impact on the surrounding environment versus traditional excavation methods,” TMF explained.

It was fairly bullish about Badger’s prospects, explaining: “As the US economy heats up, more infrastructure spending will be necessary, and that means more work for Badger and other hydrovac excavators.”

Maybe, or maybe not. It remains to be seen what the impact Trump’s trade wars will be on the US economy, but US Government investment in infrastructure under Trump is looking for anything but on the up.

A column in the Washington Post in February by Katrina Vanden Heuvel prompted by Trump’s State of the Union address reviewed numerous pre-election promises from Trump on the need for infrastructure investment before proclaiming: “Trump has failed to put forward anything that remotely resembles a credible plan. Instead, he's attempting to pass off a privatisation scheme as a public works project.”

She explained: “Despite calling for a $[US]1.5 trillion boosts in infrastructure spending, Trump is proposing just $[US]200 billion in federal funding. The remaining $1.3 trillion is expected to come from a combination of state and local governments and the private sector. Yet in most places with the greatest need for new infrastructure, cash-strapped governments won't be able to pay for it without raising taxes.”

And just where are those places with the greatest need for new infrastructure? Helpfully CNBNC in July published a list of The 10 states with the worst infrastructure.

As far as underground infrastructure goes it identified only water. Here’s what CNBC said the 10 worst states needed to spend over the next 20 years on their water infrastructure. This list is ordered from worst to best in terms of overall infrastructure needs, not just water.

Mississippi - $US4.8b

Massachusetts - $US12.2b

New Jersey - $US8.6b

New York - $US22.8b

Maryland - $US9.3b

West Virginia - $US2.3b

Connecticut - $4.0b

Maine - $1.3b

New Hampshire - $1.9b

Rhode Island - $US1.7b

The reality of the parlous state of US water infrastructure was revealed in great detail earlier this year when Utah State University’s Buried Structure Laboratory released a report titled, Water Main Breaks in the United States and Canada: A Comprehensive Study. It warns that, unless dramatic measures are taken, rapidly declining underground water networks will imperil public health and safety.

It reported that water loss due to leakage was reaching critical levels: in some cases 20 percent to 30 percent of water is leaking from water mains. We’ll have more details on that report in next week’s column.

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