WASHINGTON – Imagine you had a trillion dollars and your job is to figure out how to spend it.
That’s essentially the task the Trump administration gave Norman Anderson, president of CG/LA infrastructure, in prioritizing projects for its promised “Make America Great Again” trillion dollar infrastructure bill.
“It’s a lot of money,” said Anderson as he paced the brick walkway in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C.
Anderson is known in D.C. for a special talent: knowing the right projects to pick at the right time.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to prioritize infrastructure projects,” he explained.
Indeed, in the 1990s, Anderson worked hand in hand with Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater during the Clinton Administration, and has personally spent decades overseeing water and power projects in the United State and around the world.
“He's one of the few people in this country,” said Republican National Committee Treasurer Tony Parker, “that actually really knows and has worked with infrastructure.”
Recently the Trump administration asked Anderson's advice on how he would spend the money in what could be one of the largest in infrastructure bills in the nation's history. That is exactly why Anderson created his list of the country's top 50 infrastructure projects. It includes repairing the crumbling 1-95 corridor in North Carolina, rebuilding the Kansas City airport, and constructing a 250-mile high speed rail from Houston to Dallas.
His main criteria?
“The projects are ready to go, and will create jobs,” he said. “The other piece is that the private sector is ready to invest in these projects right now.”
Anderson, for instance, wants to turn Union Station into “a modern-day shopping experience.”
“Just like Heathrow airport,” he explained. “What that does is that it ends up paying for the long-term operation and maintenance of the facility.”
But he says you can't be spending this much money without politics and favoritism being built into the process. He knows he’s going to have national politicians and state politicians, all wanting a piece of this infrastructure bill.
So how does he make sure the right projects get funded for the right reasons?
“I think what you do is you look at jobs. And not just the jobs that are created by the project,” he said. “You’re talking about all the manufacturing jobs that go into the project.”
“So our 50 projects,” he continued, “they light up more than 50 percent of the congressional districts in the U.S.”
He added that “if you look at the operational and maintenance jobs” over the 30- to 40-year period of the projects, “they will create seven times the initial capital costs.”
When spending is done right and for the right reasons, Anderson describes it in two words.
Many of the project drawings will be on display on Thursday, April 27th at CG/LA’s “Inaugural Blueprint 2025 Leadership Forum” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Douglas Kennedy currently serves as a correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.