< PrevNext > Trump's Transportation Policies Will Reveal Themselves By Former Secretary of Transportation James Burnley, as told to BTN's Michael B. Baker / 27 January 2017 Share From the moment he descended the Trump Tower escalator to announce his candidacy for U.S. president, Donald Trump has defied predictions. Nailing down what President Trump will mean for transportation issues is no less difficult, but former Secretary of Transportation James Burnley offered BTN some insight.Air traffic control structure: House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster's proposal to spin off air traffic control into a nonprofit entity separate from the Federal Aviation Administration failed in the Senate last year, but Shuster has indicated he plans to try again. Whether he succeeds, Burnley said, likely will be determined by the level of support he receives from Elaine Chao, Trump's pick for secretary of transportation. "In my experience in the Reagan years, when we privatized Conrail, it took us three years, and it took secretarial-level attention," he said. "With [then-Secretary of Transportation] Elizabeth Dole, the two of us worked on that every day. Secretarial leadership and engagement on these issues are very important, and I hope we see that."Infrastructure: Trump promised $1 trillion in infrastructure investments, so Burnley will be surprised if it isn't a focus of Trump's domestic policy. "In the context of the debate about tax reform in particular, there may be some serious discussion about infrastructure opportunities the federal government can encourage," Burnley said. "I know of no scenario that we'd have a stimulus-style bill a la 2009, but [we could see] freeing up capital in the private sector in various ways. Whether that is in the form of an infrastructure bank that a Trump administration can support, we'll see." Burnley also said, "One area we might see a focus on is accelerating the delivery of projects. It would not surprise me if [Trump] embraced a proposal or proposals to try to very substantially accelerate federal reviews of major infrastructure projects."Open Skies: "For countries with restrictive bilateral agreements, there's been an emphasis on trying to move to Open Skies," Burnley said. "If you take the president-elect at his word on these matters, you're going to see the U.S. negotiating position perhaps be a bit stronger in terms of representing U.S. interests." Meanwhile, a coalition of major U.S. carriers and labor groups has been urging the government to revisit Open Skies agreements with Qatar and United Arab Emirates based on allegations that the three Gulf carriers get an unfair advantage from government subsidies; the Gulf carriers deny that. "There hasn't been a lot of overt activity from the Obama administration on that front," Burnley said. "It's too early to predict with any confidence what a new administration would do, but I would hope that is at the top of the list of issues for the new secretary of transportation and new secretary of state."