Amtrak 501: Trump's Infrastructure Push Too Soon, Or Not Soon Enough? By Natalie Baldassarre

After yesterday's fatal Amtrak train crash in Dupont, Washington, President Trump took no time to send a tweet touting his new infrastructure plan.

Ten minutes later, the President sent out another tweet offering his condolences.

Many – including a New York Daily News article – are criticizing the President for politicizing the tragedy too quickly. However, President Trump has been advocating for improved infrastructure since his days as a presidential candidate. So, that begs the question – is the push for improved infrastructure too soon, or not soon enough?

Amtrak 501 was traveling on a new route intended to shave 10 minutes off the trip from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon. At first rumors surrounding the crash swirled – some accused Antifa of playing a role in the accident. 

In an April 2017 blog post from Puget Sound Anarchists, an Antifa activist wrote about blocking train tracks in Olympia, Washington – less than 20 miles from where the accident occurred in Dupont. (The blog post post was later deleted).

Despite the speculation of Antifa’s involvement, it was discovered that Amtrak 501 was travelling at speeds of up to 80 mph, in a 30 mph zone. NTSB Board Member Bella Dinh-Zarr said that, it’s “too early to tell” why the train was travelling that fast. Three people have been confirmed dead, and more than 70 passengers were injured.

So what actually is included in the Trump administration’s national infrastructure plan? Would it have prevented yesterday’s tragic accident?

The Trump administration’s infrastructure plan would allocate up to $1 trillion to find a “private sector solution to the provision of public infrastructure.” The plan would also include tax credits of up to $137 billion for construction companies which – according to the Trump campaign – would “incentivize investors to spend big,” creating thousands of jobs in the construction and manufacturing industry across the country.

However, Washington’s Department of Transportation forked over upwards of $800 million for this particular train route. Also, in 2009 Washington received $800 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – this money was allocated to 20 different projects across the state, including the creation of additional routes to reduce congestion, upgrading rails, purchasing eight new locomotives, and expanding and upgrading train stations.

It’s impossible to know whether the Trump administration’s proposed funding for national infrastructure could have prevented a tragedy like this. In 2013 the American Society of Civil Engineers rated U.S. infrastructure as a D+, something obviously needs to be done – and who better to fix it than a billionaire real estate mogul and developer? Luckily, both sides of the aisle agree – it’s time to get to work.

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