WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump promised to rebuild an old and dilapidated interstate highway bridge in Louisiana -- if he's reelected next year.
Trump said in a speech Tuesday at a natural gas terminal near Lake Charles, La., that if he wins in 2020, "we're giving you a brand new I-10 bridge" starting the day after the election.
The declaration was met by loud applause from his audience. "I didn't know it was going to be that popular," the president remarked.
The moment was another illustration of Trump's brand of transactional politics, and came during "Infrastructure Week," sponsored by Washington lobbying firms and other groups promoting investment in public works. The White House has periodically proclaimed its own "infrastructure weeks" to highlight Trump's desire to sign legislation that would dedicate billions or trillions of dollars to build highways, bridges, airports and other projects.
But he has so far failed to gain much traction for the idea in Congress, making "infrastructure week" a running joke among administration officials and lawmakers.
Congressional Democratic leaders said Trump agreed during an April 30 meeting to work on a $2 trillion infrastructure package this year, but they put off the tougher conversation about how to pay for it. Another meeting is expected next week.
"We'll start work on it right away, in terms of planning, everything" Trump said Tuesday of the I-10 span, called the Calcasieu River Bridge. "It's a very unsafe bridge, a lot of problems, and we're going to give you a new one. They've been trying to do it for a long time, so we're going to start planning and development right away and we'll have it all set to go, day one, right after the election."
The bridge was constructed in 1952. Louisiana's government has been considering its replacement or rehabilitation for nearly two decades but hasn't yet settled on a plan. Travel & Leisure Magazine called the span America's seventh most dangerous bridge in 2017, citing an analysis of Federal Highway Administration data.
(Mark Niquette contributed to this report.)
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