There’s broad support for President Trump revitalizing America’s infrastructure. The Oroville Dam incident underscored the need.
LOS ANGELES — For several nervous days, the flooding at Oroville Dam in California presented the prospect of a catastrophic disaster. Now, with increasing confidence that the dam will hold, the incident could point to something different: an opportunity.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump branded himself as a builder and dealmaker set to revive a decaying America. At his inaugural address, he declared, “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.” It was the president’s most popular campaign pledge – one of the few his opponents viewed without open hostility, political analysts note.
Yet Mr. Trump’s first weeks in office have centered on a series of executive orders around polarizing social issues and controversial cabinet appointments. His national security adviser resigned this week as a crisis flared about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. His approval rates are historically low for a new president. Protests have erupted across the country.
Now, images of the craterlike hole in the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway are resuscitating discussion of the nation’s aging roads, bridges, and waterways. Observers say it’s a chance for the Trump administration to form a coalition behind a single cause.
“A big bipartisan infrastructure deal right out of the gates … really could have shown he was a different kind of president,” says Gabe Horwitz, vice president for the economic program at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington. “It’s a hugely missed opportunity.”