President Trump builds bridge for federal funding with Wichita mayor

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The President unveils a plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and builds a bridge with Wichita’s mayor in the process.

President Donald Trump’s plan calls for the federal government to speed up project permitting, and provide $200-billion in federal grants and loans. That cash is meant to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, train workers, and build out new projects including broadband internet.

But, to get that cash, he expects buy-in for projects from local and state governments. To get a piece of that 200-billion dollars he wants locals to pony up $1.3 trillion.

After the President laid out his big ideas, he made it clear to the local and state officials they’ll need to compete for any federal dollars they’re going to get. The fewer federal dollars they need, the more likely they are to win federal help.

Mayor Jeff Longwell (R-Wichita) took part in Monday’s meeting. He says his city can win some of that federal funding. He spoke with Kyle Midura following the meeting.

Kyle Midura: “What do you come out of that meeting thinking you can do for your neck of the woods?”

Mayor Longwell: “So, one, we're going to get some federal help and some federal dollars that don't exist today. And so, we've been building our projects on our own local dollars and some help from the state. Now, we're going to get some help from the federal government. The other thing that needs to happen, is tweaking the regulatory environment to help us contain our costs, and so, I appreciate that. More importantly, [the plan allows] local decision-makers to decide which projects are most important. And so, those three components I'm excited about, and just appreciate being at the table.”

Kyle Midura: “The president made it clear that whether you're a governor or your local official, you're going to have to compete for those federal dollars. Are you ready to do that, and what's the project that might be closest and best-served to compete?”

Mayor Longwell: “So, we have a major project that's about a $500-million interchange, where three highways come together at the North portion of our city - what would be considered rural and urban - as it comes into the North quadrant of our city. Major project, major bottle neck, if we can fix that Wichita's in great shape, the whole region is in great shape, that serves almost 800,000 people. That project is going to see its first phase underway this year, but there's multiple phases and a lot of dollars that need to come to the table. And so, a little bit a help, because were already starting the first phase without any financial help, so a little bit of help will enable us to speed that timeline up.”

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